Research Overview

How do we know what a lemon is, or understand the concept of joy? The goal of much of the lab’s research is to understand how meaning is represented—particularly the cognitive and neural representations of conceptual knowledge (a.k.a. semantic memory).

Some current projects in the lab ask:

  • How is the representation and retrieval of conceptual information affected by factors such as long-term experience, short-term experience, and the current context?
  • How do we represent abstract concepts, such as knowledge or democracy?
  • What kind of perceptual and neural biases shape the acquisition and integration of conceptual knowledge?

We address these questions using a number of different tools, including behavioral responses, eye movements, EEG, and fMRI.

For more background, see our publications. Or, for a very broad overview, check out this short video of Dr. Yee talking about how lemons are like canaries, or this lovely press summary about why, when you open the refrigerator door, it’s so hard to keep in mind what you were looking for.


Sharon Thompson-Schill (University of Pennsylvania)
Sheila Blumstein (Brown University)
Julie Sedivy (University of Calgary)
Daniel Drucker (University of Pennsylvania)
Daniel Mirman (University of Alabama at Birmingham)
Katherine White (University of Waterloo)
Daphna Heller (University of Toronto)
Lila Chrysikou (Drexel University)
Lisa Musz (Johns Hopkins University)
Gary Lupyan (University of Wisconsin at Madison)
Kepa Paz-Alonso (Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language)
Monika Molnar (University of Toronto)