MSU’s Karimi receives psychology department’s first National Science Foundation CAREER award

Contact: Sarah Nicholas

A studio portrait of Hossein Karimi
Hossein Karimi (Photo by Grace Cockrell)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Hossein Karimi, an assistant professor in Mississippi State’s Department of Psychology, is receiving more than half a million dollars from the National Science Foundation’s prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program—the first award of its kind for the department.

A cognitive science researcher, Karimi’s $571,932 award to advance scientific knowledge of language production and comprehension is for the five-year project “The Effect of Trial-Level Lexical Entropy on Language Processing.” He hopes to understand how language processing interacts with other critical brain functions such as working memory and attention.

“Understanding and producing language is so commonplace that we may fail to appreciate the complexities involved in them,” Karimi said. “We understand language in noisy environments, when faced with factors such as accents, lapses of attention or ambiguous words. However, the human brain generates predictions about upcoming information based on the current context and/or prior knowledge. This project will investigate other brain functions such as working memory span and attention control to examine how prediction generation interacts with those functions.”

An MSU faculty member since 2020, Karimi’s lab conducts research into the cognitive processes that contribute to human language processing, including memory operations such as encoding, storage and retrieval. He also studies the effect of cognitive decline on human memory and language processing systems.

The CAREER program supports faculty who have potential to serve as academic role models in research and education, and lead advances in the mission of their department.

This project is jointly funded by the Perception, Action and Cognition program, Linguistics program and Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), all initiatives of the NSF.

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