Mara Elizabeth Breen

Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology and Education


  • B.A., Hampshire College
  • Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Courses Taught:

  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology of Music
  • Seminar in Perception and Cognition: Language and Thought


My research is focused on prosody, which is the music of spoken language. I am interested in understanding the critical features of prosody which give rise to meaning differences in speech. I use self-paced reading, eye-tracking, and event-related potentials to investigate how overt prosody influences on-line speech segmentation and language comprehension. I am also interested in implicit prosody, or the extent to which readers are sounding out words and sentences during silent reading.


Breen, M.,**Dilley, L., Kraemer, J., and Gibson, E. (in press). Inter-transcriber agreement for two systems of prosodic annotation: ToBI (Tones and Break Indices) and RaP (Rhythm and Pitch). Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory.

Levy, R., Fedorenko, E., Breen, M., and Gibson, E. (in press). The processing of extraposed structures in English. Cognition.

Breen, M.**and Clifton, C., Jr. (2011). Stress matters: Effects of anticipated lexical stress on silent reading. Journal of Memory and Language, 64 (2), 153-170.**

Breen, M., Gibson, E. and Watson, D. (in press). Intonational phrasing is constrained by meaning, not balance. Language and Cognitive Processes, published online 9/20/2010.

Breen, M., Fedorenko, E., Wagner, M., Gibson, E. (2010). Acoustic correlates of information structure. Language and Cognitive Processes, 25 (7), 1044-1098.