Photo of Masako Hirotani

Masako Hirotani

Associate Professor (Linguistics); 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


Dr. Masako Hirotani is an Associate Professor of Linguistics. She received her PhD in psycholinguistics from University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  After the completion of her PhD, she was a postdoctoral researcher at Neuropsychology Department, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany. 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

Courses Previously Taught

  • LING 1001: Introduction to Linguistics I
  • LING1002: Introduction to Linguistics II
  • LING 1100: Mysteries of Language
  • LING 3601 / PSYC 3709: Language Processing and the Brain
  • LING 3603 / PSYC 3508: Child Language
  • LING 4601: Cognitive Neuroscience of Language
  • LING 4605: Psycholinguistic Research Methods
  • LING 4606: Statistics for Language Research
  • CGSC 5005: Cognition and Neuroscience

Selected Recent Publications

Terry, J.M., Thomas, E.R., Jackson, S.C., & Hirotani, M. (2022). African American English Speaking 2nd Graders, Verbal –s, and Educational Achievement: Event Related Potential and Math Study Findings, PLOS ONE, 17(10): e0273926.

Hirotani, M., Terry, J.M., & Sadato N. (2016). Processing Load Imposed by Line Breaks in English Temporal Wh- Questions. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1–10.

Fox, J., & Hirotani, M. (2016). Detecting Incremental Changes in Oral Proficiency in Neuroscience and Language Testing: Advantages of Interdisciplinary Collaboration. In V. Aryadoust & J. Fox (Eds.), Trends in Language Assessment Research and Practice: The View from the Middle East and the Pacific Rim (pp. 89–120), Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Hirotani, M. (2012). Prosodic Phrasing of Wh- questions in Tokyo Japanese. In T. Borowsky, S. Kawahara, T. Shinya, & M. Sugahara (Eds.), Prosody Matters, Essays in Honor of Lisa Selkirk, Series: Advances in Optimality Theory (pp. 446–486), London, UK: Equinox.

Hirotani, M., Makuuchi, M., Rueschemeyer, S., & Friederici, A.D. (2011). Who was the Agent? The Neural Correlates of Reanalysis Processes during Sentence Comprehension. Human Brain Mapping, 32(11), 1775–1787.

Hirotani, M., & Schumacher, P.B. (2011). Context and Topic Marking Affect Distinct Processes during Discourse Comprehension in Japanese. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 24(3), 276–292.

Hirotani, M., Stets, M., Striano, T., & Friederici, A.D. (2009). Joint Attention Helps Infants Learn New Words: Event-related Potential Evidence. NeuroReport, 20(6), 600–605.

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(3), 425–443.

Recent Research Grants and Awards

Invitation Fellowship for Research in Japan: Long-term, “Neural Substrates for Conversation: A Hyper-Scanning Functional MRI Study”, granted by The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), 2017.

FASS Research Award, Carleton University, 2012.

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.