Tamara Swaab

Tamara Swaab

Position Title
Associate Professor of Psychology


Research Interests 
In my laboratory we are interested in the cognitive and neural correlates of language comprehension and representation of linguistic information. Our research can be described broadly as the attempt to achieve three related goals: (1), to study when different types of contextual information (syntax, thematic information, semantic information, discourse information) are integrated in real time; (2) the role of cognitive control in these integration processes during language comprehension; (3) to identify if and how the perisylvian language network and the dorso-lateral pre-frontal cortex (important for the controlled maintenance of context relevant information) interact during language comprehension. To investigate this we use electrophysiological methods to study the brains' electrical activity as it is engaged in language processing. In addition, we have used functional imaging (fMRI), to identify which areas of the brain are important for component processes and representation of language information. We further use an individual differences approach to relate performance on language tasks to those on cognitive control tasks. Finally, we test patients with MRI circumscribed lesions with and without aphasia to further constrain the neural language circuit and test schizophrenia patients with known deficits in cognitive control to assess how that influences their language function.

Selected Publications

Nakano, H., Saron, C., & Swaab, T.Y. (2010). Speech and Span: Working memory capacity impacts the use of animacy but not of world knowledge during spoken sentence comprehension. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22 (12), 2886–2898

Boudewyn, M.A., Gordon, P.C., Long, D., Polse, L. & Swaab, T.Y. (2011). Does discourse congruence influence spoken language comprehension before lexical association? Evidence from event-related potentials. Language and Cognitive Processes. DOI:10.1080/01690965.2011.577980

Boudewyn, M.A., Long, D.L., & Swaab, T.Y. (2012). Cognitive Control Influences the Use of Meaning Relations during Spoken Sentence Comprehension. Neuropsychologia.http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.07.019 

Swaab, T.Y., Ledoux, K., Camblin, C.C., & Boudewyn, M.A. (2012) Language related ERP components. (Book Chapter). In: Luck, S. J. & Kappenman, E.S. (Eds.), pp 397-440. Oxford Handbook of Event-Related Potential Components. New York: Oxford University Press

Vergara-Martínez, M. & Swaab, T.Y. (2012). Orthographic neighborhood effects as a function of word frequency: An Event-Related Potential study. Psychophysiology. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.2012.01410.x