Christopher Kurby

Christopher Kurby

Assistant Chair

Professor - Cognitive Psychology and Aging

  • B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Northern Illinois University

Distinguished Early Career Scholar Award 2016

Office: 2207 Au Sable Hall

Phone: (616) 331-2418

Email: [email protected]

Website: Google Scholar Profile 

We are currently building an adult participant pool for studies on aging.



Distinguished Early Career Scholar Award 2016


Cognitive Psychology, Cognitive Aging

Courses Taught

PSY 300 - SWS Research Methods in Psych

PSY 364 - Life-Span Developmental Psychology

PSY 400 - Advanced Research in Psychology

Research Interests

I study how people comprehend and remember the events they experience. Within this general theme, I investigate how people understand the events described in the stories they read, the daily activities they engage in, and the movies they watch. The activities we perceive in everyday life are continuous, yet we typically remember them as composed of separate events. For example, a trip to the zoo breaks down into entering the park, visiting the animals, and exiting. Making a sandwich breaks down into collecting the ingredients, and assembling them. In order to comprehend events effectively, we must be able to break down activity into these part-subpart structures. I am interested in the causes and consequences of this segmentation on comprehension, and how this process changes as we age. How we perceive activity is likely related to how we produce it on our own. A long-term goal of my aging research is to understand this relation in order to improve performance in older age. I also study the kinds of representations people use when constructing event representations, particularly during language comprehension. A recent theory of comprehension argues that readers generate perceptual simulations of the events described by language. I study how these simulations may participate in comprehension and how they relate to readers' experience of mental imagery.

Selected Publications

Feller, D. P., Kurby, C. A., Newberry, K. M., Schwan, S., & Magliano, J. P. (2022). The effects of domain knowledge and event structure on event processing. Memory & Cognition,

Galen, L. W., Kurby, C. A., & Fles, E. H. (2022). Religiosity, shared identity, trust, and punishment of norm violations: No evidence of generalized prosociality. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 14(2), 260-272.

Kurby, C.A., & Zacks., J.M. (2022). Priming of movie content is modulated by event boundaries. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 48(11), 1559–1570.

Asiala, L. K.E., Chan, G. C., Kurby, C., & Magliano, J. P. (2020). The role of goals and goal barriers in predicting the outcomes of intentional actions in the contexts of narrative text. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, doi: 10.1080/20445911.2019.1690494

Kopatich, R. D., Feller, D. P., Kurby, C., & Magliano, J. P. (2020). The Role of Character Goals and Changes in Body Position in the Processing of Events in Visual Narratives. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, doi: (pdf)

Bangert, A. S., Kurby, C. A., Hughes, A. S., & Carrasco, O. (2020). Crossing event boundaries changes prospective perceptions of temporal length and proximity. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics. (pdf)

Magliano, J. P., Kurby, C. A., Ackerman, T., Garlitch, S. M., & Stewart, J. M. (2020). Lights, camera, action: The role of editing and framing on the processing of filmed events. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 32, 506-535. /10.1080/20445911.2020.1796685

Kurby, C. A., & Zacks, J. M. (2019). Age differences in the perception of goal structure in everyday activity. Psychology and Aging, 34(2), 187–201. (pdf)

Bangert, A. S., Kurby, C. A., & Zacks, J. M. (2019). The influence of everyday events on prospective timing “in the moment.” Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 26(2), 677–684. (pdf)

Sherrill, A. M., Kurby, C. A., Lilly, M. M., & Magliano, J. P. (2019). The effects of state anxiety on analogue peritraumatic encoding and event memory: introducing the stressful event segmentation paradigm. Memory, 27(2), 124–136.  (pdf)

Kurby, C. A., & Zacks, J. M. (2018). Preserved neural event segmentation in healthy older adults. Psychology and Aging, 33(2), 232–245. (pdf)

Kurby, C.A.  (2018). Neuroscientific methods to study discourse processes.  In M.F. Schober, D.N. Rapp, & M.A. Britt (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Discourse Processes, 2nd Edition (pp. 131-137).  New York, NY: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. (pdf)

Bailey, H. R., Kurby, C. A., Sargent, J. Q., & Zacks, J. M. (2017). Attentional focus affects how events are segmented and updated in narrative reading. Memory & Cognition, 45(6), 940–955. (pdf)

Wolfe, M.B., & Kurby, C.A. (2017). Belief in the claim of an argument increases perceived argument soundness. Discourse Processes, 54(8), 599-617. (pdf)

Zacks, J.M., Kurby, C.A., Landazabal, C.S., Krueger, F., & Grafman, J. (2016). Effects of penetrating traumatic brain injury on event segmentation and memory. Cortex, 74, 233-246. (pdf)

Swets, B., & Kurby, C. A. (2016). Eye movements reveal the influence of event structure on reading behavior. Cognitive Science, 40, 466–480. (pdf)

Kurby, C. A., & Zacks, J. M. (2015). Situation models in naturalistic comprehension. In R. M. [Ed Willems (Ed.), Cognitive neuroscience of natural language use (p. 59–76, Chapter xiv, 265 Pages). Cambridge University Press (New York, NY, US). (pdf)

Mereu, S., Zacks, J. M., Kurby, C. A., & Lleras, A. (2014). The role of prediction in perception: Evidence from interrupted visual search. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 40(4), 1372–1389. doi: (pdf)

Kurby, C. A., Asiala, L. K. E., & Mills, S. R. (2014). Aging and the segmentation of narrative film. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 21, 444-463. doi:10.1080/13825585.2013.832138 (pdf)

Bailey, H. R., Kurby, C. A., Giovannetti, T., & Zacks, J. M. (2013). Action perception predicts action performance. Neuropsychologia, 51(11), 2294–2304. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2013.06.022 (pdf)

Bailey, H.R., Zacks, J.M., Hambrick, D.Z., Zacks, R.T., Head, D., Kurby, C.A., & Sargent, J.Q. (2013). Medial temporal lobe volume predicts elder’s everyday memory. Psychological Science, 24(7), 1113–1122. (pdf)

Kurby, C. A., & Zacks, J. M. (2013). The activation of modality-specific representations during discourse processing. Brain and Language, 126, 338–349. (pdf)

Ozuru, Y., Briner, S., Kurby, C. A., & McNamara, D. S. (2013). Comparing comprehension measured by multiple-choice and open-ended questions. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology/Revue Canadienne de Psychologie Expérimentale, 67(3), 215–227. doi: (pdf)

Sargent, J. Q., Zacks, J. M., Hambrick, D. Z., Zacks, R. T., Kurby, C. A., Bailey, H. R., … Beck, T. M. (2013). Event segmentation ability uniquely predicts event memory. Cognition, 129, 241–255. (pdf)

Ozuru, Y., Kurby, C.A., & McNamara, D.S. (2012). The effect of metacomprehension judgment task on comprehension monitoring and metacognitive accuracy. Metacognition and Learning, 7, 113-131. (pdf)

Briner, S.W., Virtue, S., & Kurby, C.A. (2012). Processing causality in narrative events: Temporal order matters. Discourse Processes, 49, 61-77. (pdf)

Kurby, C. A., Magliano, J. P., Dandotkar, S., Woehrle, J., Gilliam, S., & McNamara, D. S. (2012). Changing how students process and comprehend texts with computer-based self-explanation training. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 47(4), 429–459. doi: (pdf)

Kurby, C.A., & Zacks, J.M. (2012). Starting from scratch and building brick by brick in comprehension. Memory & Cognition, 40, 812-826. (pdf)

Kang, S.H.K., Yap, M.J., Tse, C.S., & Kurby, C.A. (2011). Semantic Size Does Not Matter: “Bigger” Words Are Not Recognized Faster. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 64, 1041-1047. NIHMSID: 287444. (pdf)

Kurby, C.A., & Zacks, J.M. (2011). Age differences in the perception of hierarchical structure in events. Memory & Cognition, 39, 75-91. NIHMSID: 263761. (pdf)

Zacks, J.M., Kurby, C.A., Eisenberg, M.L., & Haroutunian, N. (2011). Prediction error associated with the perceptual segmentation of naturalistic events. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23, 4057-4066. (pdf)

Pickett, S.M., & Kurby, C.A (2010). The impact of experiential avoidance on the inference of characters’ emotions: evidence for an emotional processing bias. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 34, 493-500. PMCID: PMC3011885. (pdf)

Recent Poster Reprint

Kurby, C.A., Schramm, K.R., & Zacks, J.M. (2016). Objects in previous events look farther away than objects in current ones. Poster presented at the 57th annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Boston MA. (pdf)

Page last modified May 1, 2024