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Brennan R. Payne

Brennan R. Payne, PhD

Academic Office Information

Research Interests

  • Medical Methodologies or Procedures

Research Statement

My research program aims to understand the basic cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying language and memory systems across the adult lifespan. I adopt an interdisciplinary and multi-method approach to this work, drawing on theories and methods in cognitive science, neuroscience, gerontology, linguistics, and quantitative and experimental psychology. My lab's primary methodologies include non-invasively recording and modulating human brain activity (e.g., via event-related brain potentials, transcranial magnetic stimulation), recording eye movements and pupil dilation via eye tracking, and studying and relating these measures to behavioral performance (e.g., reaction time, memory). Below, I provide a snapshot of three inter-related lines of research within this program.

Cognitive Aging and Individual Differences in Language Use. The mechanisms underlying the comprehension of language are complex, involving the recruitment of a highly distributed set of neural systems supporting sensory and cognitive processing. Normative aging can begin to compromise these systems, negatively impacting the ability to comprehend language and learn from text and speech. One primary line of my research investigates how aging and individual differences in adulthood impact language comprehension and memory, and how sensitive on-line measures of moment-to-moment language processing (e.g., ERPs, eye tracking, and reaction time) reveal mechanisms of these differences. For example, I have shown that age-related changes in working memory and language experience are dissociable across the adult lifespan, and have differential impacts on lexical, semantic, and syntactic processing. In more recent work, we have begun exploring the compensatory role of literacy experience in middle age and older adulthood. This work has the potential to improve adult literacy assessments and interventions by focusing on real-time language and cognitive processes during reading.

In another novel applied direction, my lab has begun examining how the cognitive workload associated with processing acoustically degraded speech can be reduced through the simultaneous presentation of text. We have shown that assistive text captioning can offset the negative effects of sensorineural hearing loss and background noise on speech processing and memory. Ongoing work is focusing on understanding how text features (e.g., caption errors, intermodal asynchrony) influence the captioning benefit, and using ERPs to study real-time audio-visual integration of text and speech.

Bridging the Gap Between the Behavioral and Neural Study of Comprehension. I have worked to develop methods and paradigms to bridge the gap between the behavioral and neural study of language comprehension. For example, in one line of work, I have examined the neural mechanisms underlying the allocation of covert attention across the visual field in sentence reading. This work has combined behavioral, eye tracking, and neurophysiological measures to probe (a) lexical semantic processing in parafoveal vision, (b) the relationship between concurrent foveal difficulty and parafoveal visual attention, and (c) how age-related cognitive and sensory change modulates visual attention allocation in reading. Findings have highlighted important neurophysiological constraints on models of reading. One emerging line of this work involves developing methods to simultaneously record and co-register event-related brain potentials with eye movement behavior (e.g., fixation onsets and saccades) during natural reading. This work will allow us to examine neurophysiological mechanisms of naturalistic reading behavior in ecologically valid environments.

Related to this work, I have also conducted several studies using simultaneous measures of pupil dilation and ERPs to better understand the neural mechanisms underlying the cognitive pupillary dilation response (PDR) in language, memory, and attention tasks. For example, we have examined trial-to-trial variation between the P3b ERP component and the PDR in a continuous performance task, and in other work we used the PDR as a measure of effort when listening to acoustically challenging speech and have shown that PDR-mediated increases in listening effort modulate the N400 ERP component (a neural marker of semantic memory retrieval) and subsesquent speech memory. These findings have implications for understanding how acoustic degradation negatively impacts high-level language and memory processes.

In other ongoing work in this area, I have studied sustained attention in language processing by examining within-person (intra-individual) moment-to-moment variability in behavioral and neural indices of language processing. This work has begun to reveal the mechanisms underlying trial-to-trial variability in language processing (i.e., why is it that we can sometimes process language efficiently, and other times we seem to ‘zone out’). I have developed a novel method for conducting single-item level measurement, visualization, and analysis of event-related brain potentials and I’ve recently extended this work by co-registering single-trial behavioral and neural measures during reading. These results have revealed neural processes that are obscured by traditional averaging methods. For example, we provided the first direct electrophysiological evidence for the role of cognitive control processes in regulating moment-to-moment reading behavior, with implications for the assessment of comprehension in special populations.

Finally, we are conducting a project examining the role of speech-related neural systems in sentence comprehension. In this project, we are developing a novel methodology combining non-invasive brain stimulation (e.g., transcranial magnetic stimulation [TMS]), functional speech mapping, and the simultaneous recording of high-density EEG. Our first study from this project has revealed that inhibitory TMS to the left (but not right) inferior frontal cortex temporarily eliminate the beneficial effects of predictability on verbal memory. We believe such findings have the potential to advance causal models of the neurobiology of language and memory with implications for improving communicative competence and language remediation in aging and in certain clinical populations.

Cognitive Resilience in Older Adulthood. There exist considerable individual differences in cognitive and brain functioning in older adulthood, such that some adults in late life can outperform their younger counterparts in complex cognitive domains, while others show considerable deficits. What are the mechanisms that underlie this variability in aging? My line of research that addresses this question relies on the collaborative analysis of several large scale cognitive interventions (e.g., Senior Odysseyand ACTIVE) and longitudinal studies (e.g., MIDUS). A primary goal of this work has been to highlight the role that dispositional and personality characteristics play not only in understanding trajectories of cognitive aging but also in understanding individual differences in responsiveness to interventions to promote cognitive health in aging.

Selected Publications

Journal Article

  1. LoTemplio S Silcox J (12/2021). Inter- and intra-individual coupling between pupillary, electrophysiological, and behavioral responses in a visual oddball task. Psychophysiology, 58, e13758. (Read full article)
  2. Dewitte L Lewis NA (11/01/2021). Cross-lagged relationships between sense of purpose in life, memory performance, and subjective memory beliefs in adulthood over a 9-year interval. Aging Ment Health, 25, 2018-2027. (Read full article)
  3. Silcox JW (09/01/2021). The costs (and benefits) of effortful listening on context processing: A simultaneous electrophysiology, pupillometry, and behavioral study. Cortex, 142, 296-316. (Read full article)
  4. Fennell AM Bugos JA (07/01/2021). Music is similar to language in terms of working memory interference. Psychon Bull Rev, 28, 512-525. (Read full article)
  5. LoTemplio SB Scott EE McDonnell AS Hopman RJ Castro SC McNay GD McKinney TL Greenberg K Payne BR Strayer DL (11/01/2020). Nature as a potential modulator of the error-related negativity: A registered report. 156, 49-59. (Read full article)
  6. Payne BR Federmeier KD Stine-Morrow EA (10/01/2020). Literacy skill and intra-individual variability in eye-fixation durations during reading: Evidence from a diverse community-based adult sample. 73, 1841-1861. (Read full article)
  7. Dewitte L Lewis NA Payne BR Turiano NA Hill PL (09/01/2020). Cross-lagged relationships between sense of purpose in life, memory performance, and subjective memory beliefs in adulthood over a 9-year interval. Aging Ment Health, 25, 1-10. (Read full article)
  8. Hill PL Aschwanden D Payne BR Allemand M (07/01/2020). Daily cognitive complaints and engagement in older adulthood: Personality traits are more predictive than cognitive performance. Psychol Aging, 35, 317-328. (Read full article)
  9. Ng S (03/01/2020). Execution of lexical and conceptual processes in sentence comprehension among adult readers as a function of literacy skill. Sci Stud Read.
  10. Payne BR (11/27/2019). Individual Differences in Reading Speed are Linked to Variability in the Processing of Lexical and Contextual Information: Evidence from Single-trial Event-related Brain Potentials. 65, 252-272.
  11. Payne BR (10/01/2019). Aging, context processing, and comprehension. 71, 215-264.
  12. Schotter ER Payne BR (09/01/2019). Eye Movements and Comprehension Are Important to Reading. Trends Cogn Sci, 23, 811-812. (Read full article)
  13. Chandler MC McGowan AL Payne BR Hampton Wray A Pontifex MB (03/01/2019). Aerobic fitness relates to differential attentional but not language-related cognitive processes. Brain Lang, 198, 104681. (Read full article)
  14. Payne BR Stites MC Federmeier KD (02/01/2019). Event-related brain potentials reveal how multiple aspects of semantic processing unfold across parafoveal and foveal vision during sentence reading. Psychophysiology, 56, e13432. (Read full article)
  15. Lohani M Payne BR Isaacowitz DM (09/01/2018). Emotional coherence in early and later adulthood during sadness reactivity and regulation. Emotion, 18, 789-804. (Read full article)
  16. Ng S Payne BR Stine-Morrow EAL Federmeier KD (03/01/2018). How struggling adult readers use contextual information when comprehending speech: Evidence from event-related potentials. 125, 1-9. (Read full article)
  17. Gross AL Payne BR Casanova R Davoudzadeh P Dzierzewski JM Farias S Giovannetti T Ip EH Marsiske M Rebok GW Schaie KW Thomas K Willis S Jones RN (02/01/2018). The ACTIVE conceptual framework as a structural equation model. Exp Aging Res, 44, 1-17. (Read full article)
  18. Tomaszewski Farias S Giovannetti T Payne BR Marsiske M Rebok GW Schaie KW Thomas KR Willis SL Dzierzewski JM Unverzagt F Gross AL (02/01/2018). Self-perceived Difficulties in Everyday Function Precede Cognitive Decline among Older Adults in the ACTIVE Study. J Int Neuropsychol Soc, 24, 104-112. (Read full article)
  19. Lewis NA Turiano NA Payne BR Hill PL (01/01/2018). Purpose in life and cognitive functioning in adulthood. Neuropsychol Dev Cogn B Aging Neuropsychol Cogn, 24, 662-671. (Read full article)
  20. Payne BR Federmeier KD (12/01/2017). Event-related brain potentials reveal age-related changes in parafoveal-foveal integration during sentence processing. Neuropsychologia, 106, 358-370. (Read full article)
  21. Steen-Baker AA Ng S Payne BR Anderson CJ Federmeier KD Stine-Morrow EAL (11/01/2017). The effects of context on processing words during sentence reading among adults varying in age and literacy skill. Psychol Aging, 32, 460-472. (Read full article)
  22. Payne BR Stites MC Federmeier KD (11/01/2017). Out of the corner of my eye: Foveal semantic load modulates parafoveal processing in reading. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform, 42, 1839-1857. (Read full article)
  23. Ng S (11/2017). Use of contextual information by struggling adult readers: Evidence from reading time and event- related brain potential. Sci Stud Read, 21, 359-375.
  24. Payne BR Stine-Morrow EAL (09/01/2017). The Effects of Home-Based Cognitive Training on Verbal Working Memory and Language Comprehension in Older Adulthood. Front Aging Neurosci, 9, 256. (Read full article)
  25. Hill PL Payne BR (05/01/2017). Don't forget the person when promoting healthy cognitive aging: Comment on Smith (2016). 72, 390-392. (Read full article)
  26. Payne BR Gross AL Hill PL Parisi JM Rebok GW Stine-Morrow EAL (05/01/2017). Decomposing the relationship between cognitive functioning and self-referent memory beliefs in older adulthood: what's memory got to do with it? Neuropsychol Dev Cogn B Aging Neuropsychol Cogn, 24, 345-362. (Read full article)
  27. Brennan R Payne (05/2017).
  28. Liu X Chin J Payne BR Fu WT Morrow DG Stine-Morrow EA (04/01/2017). Adult age differences in information foraging in an interactive reading environment. Psychol Aging, 31, 211-23. (Read full article)
  29. Stites MC Payne BR Federmeier KD (02/01/2017). Getting ahead of yourself: Parafoveal word expectancy modulates the N400 during sentence reading. Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci, 17, 475-490. (Read full article)
  30. Payne BR Lee CL Federmeier KD (12/01/2016). Revisiting the incremental effects of context on word processing: Evidence from single-word event-related brain potentials. Psychophysiology, 52, 1456-69. (Read full article)
  31. Payne BR Stine-Morrow EA (06/01/2016). Risk for Mild Cognitive Impairment Is Associated With Semantic Integration Deficits in Sentence Processing and Memory. 71, 243-53. (Read full article)
  32. Chin J Payne BR Fu WT Morrow DG Stine-Morrow EA (05/01/2016). Information Foraging Across the Life Span: Search and Switch in Unknown Patches. 7, 428-50. (Read full article)
  33. Elizabeth Stine-Morrow (03/2016).
  34. Stine-Morrow EA Payne BR Roberts BW Kramer AF Morrow DG Payne L Hill PL Jackson JJ Gao X Noh SR Janke MC Parisi JM (08/01/2015). Training versus engagement as paths to cognitive enrichment with aging. Psychol Aging, 29, 891-906. (Read full article)
  35. Payne BR Gross AL Parisi JM Sisco SM Stine-Morrow EA Marsiske M Rebok GW (06/01/2015). Modelling longitudinal changes in older adults' memory for spoken discourse: findings from the ACTIVE cohort. 22, 990-1001. (Read full article)
  36. Payne BR Grison S Gao X Christianson K Morrow DG Stine-Morrow EA (04/01/2015). Aging and individual differences in binding during sentence understanding: evidence from temporary and global syntactic attachment ambiguities. Cognition, 130, 157-73. (Read full article)
  37. Payne BR Stine-Morrow EA (03/01/2015). Adult age differences in wrap-up during sentence comprehension: evidence from ex-Gaussian distributional analyses of reading time. Psychol Aging, 29, 213-28. (Read full article)
  38. Chin J (01/2015). Knowledge in uences comprehension and mem- ory for health information among older adults: Distinguishing domain-general and domain- speci c knowledge e ects. . Memory, 23.
  39. Hill PL Payne BR Jackson JJ Stine-Morrow EA Roberts BW (08/01/2014). Perceived social support predicts increased conscientiousness during older adulthood. 69, 543-7. (Read full article)
  40. Elizabeth Stine-Morrow (01/2014).
  41. Jackson JJ Hill PL Payne BR Roberts BW Stine-Morrow EA (10/01/2012). Can an old dog learn (and want to experience) new tricks? Cognitive training increases openness to experience in older adults. Psychol Aging, 27, 286-92. (Read full article)
  42. Payne BR Gao X Noh SR Anderson CJ Stine-Morrow EA (06/01/2012). The effects of print exposure on sentence processing and memory in older adults: Evidence for efficiency and reserve. Neuropsychol Dev Cogn B Aging Neuropsychol Cogn, 19, 122-49. (Read full article)
  43. Payne BR Jackson JJ Hill PL Gao X Roberts BW Stine-Morrow EA (04/01/2012). Memory self-efficacy predicts responsiveness to inductive reasoning training in older adults. 67, 27-35. (Read full article)
  44. Brennan (01/2012).
  45. Payne BR Jackson JJ Noh SR Stine-Morrow EA (01/01/2012). In the zone: flow state and cognition in older adults. Psychol Aging, 26, 738-43. (Read full article)
  46. Chin J (01/2012). Information foraging in unknown patches.

Book Chapter

  1. Payne BR (01/01/2020). Personality and cognitive health in aging. In Personality and Healthy Aging: New Directions and Techniques. Springer (1). Personality and Healthy Aging: New Directions and Techniques. Springer.
  2. Payne BR (01/2017). Experimental research methods in lifespan human devel- opment. In SAGE Encyclopedia of Lifespan Human Development. SAGE Encyclopedia of Lifespan Human Development.
  3. Stine-Morrow EAL (01/2015). Education and learning: Lifespan perspectives. In International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences.