Photo of Masako Hirotani

Masako Hirotani

Associate Professor (Linguistics/Cognitive Science); Director (Language & Brain Lab)

Degrees:B.A. (Sophia), M.A. (Tokyo), Ph.D. (Massachusetts)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 2805 (prefers e-mail contact)
Office:202 Paterson Hall

Note: Dr. Hirotani provides graduate supervision to students pursuing advanced degrees in the field of Cognitive Science.


Language & Brain Lab


Dr. Masako Hirotani is an Associate Professor of Linguistics and Cognitive Science. She received her PhD in psycholinguistics from University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2005.  After the completion of her PhD, she spent two years at Neuropsychology Department, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany for her postdoctoral fellowship. Dr. Hirotani is investigating the mechanisms of human language processing. Her current research interests are focused on the following areas: 1) adult sentence processing, 2) use of auditory information in sentence processing by adults and children, and 3) neural correlates for language processing.

She is the director of the Carleton’s newly established Language and Brain Laboratory.  She is also a member of the Carleton’s Centre for Applied Cognitive Research (CACR) and the Visualization and Simulation (VSIM) Centre.

Research Areas

  • Psycholinguistics
  • Cognitive Neuroscience of Language
  • Syntax-Phonology and Semantics-Phonology Interfaces

Research Laboratory

Language and Brain Laboratory

Courses Previously Taught

  • LING 1001: Introduction to Linguistics
  • LING 1100: Mysteries of Language
  • LING 3601 / PSYC 3709: Language Processing and the Brain I
  • LING 3603 / PSYC 3508: Child Language
  • LING 4601: Language Processing and the Brain II
  • LING 4605: Psycholinguistic Research Methods
  • LING 4606: Statistics for Language Research
  • CGSC 5005: Cognition and Neuroscience

Selected Recent Publications

Hirotani, M., Makuuchi, M., Rueschemeyer, S., & Friederici, A.D. (In Press). Who was the Agent? The Neural Correlates of Reanalysis Processes during Sentence Comprehension. Human Brain Mapping.

White, S.J., Hirotani, M., & Liversedge S.P. (In Press). Eye Movement Behaviour during Reading of Japanese Sentences: Effects of Word length and Visual Complexity. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

Hirotani, M. (In Press). Prosodic Phrasing of Wh-questions in Tokyo Japanese. In T. Borowsky, S. Kawahara, T. Shinya and M. Sugahara (Eds.), Prosody Matters, Essays in Honor of Lisa Selkirk, Series: Advances in Optimality Theory, (pp. 469-511). Equinox: London, UK.

Hirotani, M. & Schumacher, P. (2011). The Role of Context and Topic Marking during Discourse Processing in Japanese: Evidence from ERPs. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 24, 276-292.

Hirotani, M. (2010). Use of Pitch for Processing Emotions. Canadian Acoustics.

Hirotani, M., Stets, M., Striano, T., & Friederici, A.D. (2009). Joint Attention Helps Infants Learn New Words: Event-related Potential Evidence. NeuroReport, 20, 600-605.

Wolff, S., Schlesewsky, M., Hirotani, M., & Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, I. (2008). The Neural Mechanisms of Word Order Processing Revisited: Electrophysiological Evidence from Japanese. Brain and Language, 107, 133-157.

Hirotani, M. (2007). Prosody and LF Interpretation: Processing Japanese Wh-questions. Phonological Studies, Vol. 10 (pp. 67-68). Tokyo: Kaitakusha.

Mueller, J., Hirotani, M., & Friederici, A.D. (2007). ERP Evidence for Different Strategies in the Processing of Case Markers in Native Speakers and Non-native Learners. BMC Neuroscience, 8, 18.

Hirotani, M., Frazier, L., & Rayner, K. (2006). Punctuation and Intonation Effects on Sentence and Clause Wrap-up: Evidence from Eye Movements. Journal of Memory and Language, 54, 425-443.

Recent Research Grants and Awards

FASS Research Award, Carleton University, 2011

FASS Junior Faculty Research Award, Carleton University, 2011

Ottawa Cluster for Excellence in Advanced Neurosensing (OCEAN). Granted to D’Angiulli, A., Chan, A., Hirotani, M., Garvey, T., & Anisman, H. Carleton University Research Excellence Fund, 2011-2014

Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience: Language and Brain (CCN.LaB). Canada Foundation for Innovation, Leaders Opportunity Fund, 2009-2013.

The On-line Use of Prosodic Information during Sentence Comprehension: ERP Investigation. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Standard Research Grant, 2008-2011.