Mara Elizabeth Breen

Assistant Professor of Psychology and Education


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

Courses Taught:

  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology of Music
  • Visual and Auditory Perception
  • 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. (2014). Empirical investigations of the role of implicit prosody in sentence processing. Language and Linguistics Compass. 8 (2) 37-50.

Breen, M., Dilley, L.C., McAuley, J.D., and Sanders, L.D. (2014). Auditory evoked potentials reveal early perceptual effects of distal prosody on speech segmentation. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. 29 (9), 1132-1146.

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.