Cognitive Psychology

Section 1

Cognitive Division

Program Description

The faculty in cognitive psychology have research programs focused on human memory, language processing, categorization, reasoning, computational modeling, and cognitive aging. The emphasis in the cognitive psychology program is focused on acquiring exceptionally strong research skills in a domain chosen by the student, working closely with individual faculty members and using multiple dependent measures to study a given area. Faculty members and students in the cognitive psychology program have research interests and collaborations that overlap with those in every other program areas in the Department. In addition to strong intersections with the Attention and Perception and Cognitive Neuroscience programs, there are also collaborations with social, developmental, and quantitative psychologists.


Cognitive psychology faculty offer a large array of graduate courses that cover the field of cognitive psychology in an exceptionally comprehensive manner. Students develop a specialized course of study designed to provide expertise in their particular areas of interest, but also acquire breadth in the field through coursework outside the program area and well as through interdisciplinary collaborations. All students complete a first year project that is presented to the faculty at a weekly research seminar attended by all students and faculty in the program. By the end of the third year, students will have completed the Comprehensive Examination as well as the majority of their course work. The material to be covered on the Comprehensive Examination is jointly decided by the student and his or her faculty advisor. The remaining years in the program are devoted to completing a dissertation, publishing data collected earlier, as well as developing depth and breadth in preparation for a career in academia, industry, or government service, with the majority of students entering academia.

Facilities and Resources

The facilities associated with cognitive psychology are superlative. Every faculty member has substantial laboratory space in either the Psychology Department or Beckman Institute dedicated to his or her research program. All students have access to a vast array of state of the art technologies and methodologies as well as a high end computing environment. Tools available to study cognition, in addition to traditional behavioral methods, include a research-dedicated head only 3 Tesla scanner for functional neuroimaging, as well as optical imaging, EEG/ERP, and eye-tracking. Students have access to many different subject populations, including older adults, children, and clinic populations. The technical resources available to students in cognitive psychology are among the most comprehensive and best in the world for the study of human cognition.

Affiliated Departments, Programs and Institutes

Most faculty members in cognitive psychology have appointments in the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. In addition, faculty members collaborate with faculty members in other Departments at UIUC, including Linguistics, Engineering, Educational Psychology, Kinesiology, the Genomics Institute, and the Institute of Aviation. Cross-cultural research opportunities for the study of cognition are also available in China and Singapore.

Cognitive Psychology Faculty

Aaron S. Benjamin, Professor


Human learning, memory, and decision-making.

Office: Room 827 | (217) 333-6822 | asbenjam@illinois.ed

Gary S. Dell, Professor

Gary S. Dell

Language production and comprehension; connectionist models of psycholinguistic phenomena.

Office: Room 833 | (217) 244-1294 |

Kara D. Federmeier, Professor

Kara D. Federmeier

Neurobiological basis of meaning, including how world knowledge derived from multiple modalities is organized in the brain, how it is used during language comprehension, and how it is accessed and used by the two cerebral hemispheres.

Office: Room 831 | (217) 333-8303 |

John E. Hummel, Professor

John E. Hummel

Relational processing in perception and cognition. Neurocomputational origins of relational (i.e., symbolic) thought.

Office: Room 825 | (217) 265-6090 |

Jessica L. Montag, Assistant Professor

Jessica Montag

Language production and comprehension; experiential bases of language development; compilation and analysis of speech and text corpora, including large naturalistic datasets of child-directed speech.

Office: Room |


Lili Sahakyan, Associate Professor

User Photo

Human long-term memory, specifically various forgetting phenomena, from incidental forgetting that arises without any intention to forget to motivated forgetting, and how memory for events and event boundaries influence time estimates.

Office: Room 835 |

Jon A. Willits, Assistant Professor

Jon Willits

Learning and Cognitive Development, Language and Semantic Knowledge, Computational Models of Learning and Memory, Machine Learning Analyses of Naturalistic Datasets.

Office: Room 811 |


Associated Faculty

J. Kathryn Bock, Professor Emeritus

J. Kathryn Bock

How people turn thoughts into speech, including: how the features of ideas affect language forms; what goes wrong when speakers make errors in selecting or arranging words; and the cognitive processes that control how words are arranged.

Office: Room 811 | (217) 244-1121 |

William F. Brewer, Professor Emeritus

William F. Brewer

Cognitive psychology; cognitive science; knowledge representation; acquisition of knowledge; discourse; reading comprehension; psychology of science; and history of psychology.

Office: Room 629 | (217) 333-1548 |

Donelson E. Dulany, Professor Emeritus

Donelson E. Dulany

Experimental analysis and theory of intentional action, causal reasoning, and implicit learning; mentalistic metatheory.

Office: Room 421 | (217) 333-2971 |

Susan M. Garnsey, Associate Professor Emeritus

Susan M. Garnsey

Language processing; resolution of syntactic and lexical ambiguity and context effects on that resolution; the effect of prosody on disambiguation; on-line techniques for measuring language comprehension; word recognition; and language/brain relationships.

Daniel C. Hyde, Assistant Professor

Daniel Hyde

Numerical, spatial, and social cognitive development in infants,children, and adults using brain (EEG,ERP,fNIRS) and behavioral measures.

Office: Room 621 | (217) 333-0631 |

Brian H. Ross, Professor Emeritus

Brian H. Ross

Cognitive psychology issues in learning, memory, problem solving and categorization. In particular: problem-solving and learning in complex domains, categorization, learning, and use of concepts. Remindings and the use of memory.

Edward J. Shoben, Professor Emeritus

Edward J. Shoben


Facilities Information

Building Remodeling Projects

Click on the title to check out these pictures from the classroom remodeling project in the basement. A second project to replace the elevators will begin in September. Beginning with the freight elevator, each elevator will be out of service for three months. To get quickly from one floor to another, and improve your fitness, we will encourage the use of the stairs. The repainting of the northeast stairwell has been completed, and the painter is starting on the southwest stairwell.