Masha Westerlund bio photo

Masha Westerlund

Canadian, Scientist

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I work in the Neuroscience of Language Lab at NYU, with Dr. Liina Pylkkänen. My research focuses on understanding how people comprehend the meaning of phrases. More specifically, I’m interested in how people conjure up a mental image of a new concept, like a blue flamingo. I do research with magnetoencephalography, or MEG, which allows me to very quickly measure small changes in neural activity and identify where in the brain they are occurring. Most recently, I’ve been interested in how phrasal meaning relates to the meaning of single words.


  • Leffel, T., Lauter, M., Westerlund, M., & Pylkkänen, L. (2014). Restrictive vs. non-restrictive composition: a magnetoencephalography study. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 29(10), 1191-1204.

  • Westerlund, M., & Pylkkänen, L. (2014). The role of the left anterior temporal lobe in semantic composition vs. semantic memory. Neuropsychologia, 57, 59–70.

  • Westerlund, M., Kastner, I., Al Kaabi, M., & Pylkkänen, L. (2015). The LATL as locus of composition: MEG evidence from English and Arabic. Brain and Language, 141, 124-134.

In Preparation

  • Fruchter, J., Linzen, T., Westerlund, M., & Marantz, A. (under review). Lexical preactivation in basic linguistic phrases.