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Julia Fisher, Ph.D.

Julia Fisher, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychology; Coordinator of the Psychology Program

  • Ph.D., University of Colorado
  • M.A., University of Colorado
  • B.A., University of Wisconsin


My primary research interest is in language, memory and cognition. Specifically I am interested in the learning, memory and use of cognitive, phonological, and semantic knowledge representations. This would include the study of how these representations participate in the development, realizations and interactions of language forms. Related to these issues, I am further interested in examining how use of, access to, and facility with these representations is indicative of the structure of the mental lexicon for bilingual as well as monolingual speakers and may be individually motivated and mediated by literacy levels.


  • 2006 Fisher, Julia A., Elliot Hirshman, Thomas Henthorn, Jason Arndt, and Anthony Passannante, Midazolam amnesia and short term/working memory processes. Consciousness and Cognition, March 2006, 54-63.
  • 2003 Hirshman, Elliot, Julia A. Fisher, Thomas Henthorn, Jason Arndt, and Anthony Passannante. The effect of midazolam on conscious, controlled processing: Evidence from the Process-Dissociation Procedure. Memory and Cognition, 31(8), 1181-1187.
  • 2003 Hirshman, Elliot, Julia A. Fisher, Thomas Henthorn, Jason Arndt, and Anthony Passannante. Midazolam amnesia and retrieval from semantic memory: Developing methods to test theories of implicit memory. Brain and Cognition, 53, 427-432
  • 2003 Hirshman, Elliot, Ellen Wells, Margaret Wierman, Benjamin Anderson, Andrew Butler and Julia A. Fisher. The effect of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on recognition memory discrimination and decision processes in postmenopausal women. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. 10 (1) 125-134.
  • 2002 Hirshman, Elliot, Julia A. Fisher, Thomas Henthorn, Jason Arndt, and Anthony Passannante. Midazolam amnesia and dual process models of the word-frequency mirror effect. Journal of Memory and Language 47, 499-516.
  • 2002 Raymond, William, Julia A. Fisher, and Alice F. Healy. Linguistic knowledge and language performance in English article preference. Language and Cognitive Processes.17 (6), 613-662.
  • 2002 Healy, Alice F., Carolyn J. Buck-Gengler, Immanuel Barshi, James T. Parker, Vivian I. Schneider, William D. Raymond, Noelle N. Lavoie, Anita Bowles, Paul Pauli, Julia A. Fisher, Benjamin D. Rutenberg, and Lyle E. Bourne, Jr. Optimizing the durability and generalizability of knowledge and skills. Advances in Psychology, Vol 8. Serge P. Shohov (Editor). pp. 103-174. Nova Science Publisher, Huntington, New York.


  • 2010 Fisher, Julia A. Finding a way in: What lexical access can tell us about learning to read. Faculty Karaoke, Coker University. Invited talk. February 2010.
  • 2002 Fisher, Julia A. and Priscilla Shannon-Gutierrez. Language and literacy: Acquisition, processes, and cognition. BEN Institute, University of Colorado – Boulder, CO. Invited talk. December 2002.
  • 2002 Fisher, Julia A. and Colleen Dingman. Using Midazolam to explore implicit vs. explicit memory. University of Colorado Health Sciences Center Department of Anesthesiology Colloquium. June 2002.
  • 2000 Fisher, Julia. Language processes used in reading: Why some children struggle to read. English Department Colloquium, Metropolitan State College – Denver, Invited talk. April 2000.
  • 1999 Raymond, William, Julia A. Fisher, and Alice F. Healy. Healy. Explaining language performance through rule interaction: English article variation in production and perception. Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting, January, 1999
  • 1998 Raymond, William, Julia A. Fisher, and Alice F. Healy. Implicit knowledge of abstract rules in a language task. Rocky Mountain Psychological Association, April 1998.
  • 1997 Fisher, Julia. Linguistic strategies for visual lexical access: How reading is Not listening. Symposium on Research in Child Language Disorders, June 1997.
  • 1997 Fisher, Julia A., Carolyn Buck-Gengler. Letter detection in English Past-tense –ed morphemes. Rocky Mountain Psychological Association, April 1997.
  • 1996 Fisher, Julia A. Lexical access in reading: Linguistic word recognition strategies. Linguistics Circle, Invited talk.
  • 1996 Fisher, Julia A. The neurological bases of gender identification as revealed through language. Language and Gender, Invited talk.
  • 1995 Fisher, Julia A. Gender Bias in the Classroom. Graduate Teacher Program Workshop. November 1995.
  • 1995 Fisher, Julia A. A cognitive approach to lexical analysis. Rocky Mountain Psychological Association, April 1995.
  • 1994 Fisher, Julia A. “Some” problems: A cognitive-semantic analysis of non-specific quantifiers. Linguistics Circle, Invited talk, Boulder, CO.
  • 1994 Fisher, Julia A. Lexical organization and access in reading. Spring Psychology Colloquium, May 1994, Boulder, CO.


  • Observational study of phonological structure of Arabic.
  • Observational studies of language development of both English-speaking children (ages 4 months and 2 years) and French-speaking children (ages 4 and 5 years). Data for English-speaking children was gathered through diary maintenance while the Childes electronic database provided data for the French-speaking children. Taken together, my results suggest significant individual variation in progress towards adult usage by speakers of both languages.
  • Experimental study of variation between visual and auditory lexical access of monolingual elementary school children ages ten to twelve. This study also included experimental comparisons of access to semantic, phonological, and orthographic representations among these same children. My research findings implicate highly individualized access strategies in both visual and auditory modalities, and examined the significance of this individuation for reading acquisition. Based on various statistical analyses of the data from this priming study, I proposed a model for effective lexical access, which accommodates the observations of individual facility with linguistic representations. These studies were pursued with the cooperation and support of the Institute of Cognitive Science and the Graduate Teacher Program at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
  • Experimental studies of the phonological realization of rule-governed alternating linguistic forms. This research looked at both morpho-phonological and syntactic forms as used by college-aged university students. Specifically investigated was the extent to which auditory perception of linguistic phonological segments impacts learned orthographic representations in reading, through a letter detection paradigm.
  • Research investigating the level at which abstract phonological rules influence production choices in a purely verbal task. results indicated that forms that exhibit morphological variation are strongly rule-governed, while syntactic variation may in fact be random and highly individualized. Both seem to be constrained by orthographic representations for highly literate individuals. Much of this research was supported by a grant from the Army Research Institute. We are currently involved in a comparison of these data with that of non-native English speakers.
  • Experimental studies of how fluctuations in neurochemicals impact explicit and implicit memory. This research posed questions regarding which characteristics of explicit memory remain intact, after certain neural areas have been selectively impaired, and how these characteristics may differ from those of implicit memory. The studies required a psychopharmaceutical paradigm, while the tasks addressed both long- and short-term memory. Specifically, from one study the adult data suggested that memory for lexical items, which varied on the basis of frequency in the lexicon and presentation duration, was highly susceptible to the influence of GABAergic compounds. However, memory for semantic categories was considerably less vulnerable to such influence. Additionally, effects on short-term memory were variable dependent on concentration levels of these compounds. In a separate study, we interpreted our data from pre- and post-menopausal women as an indicator of cholinergic compounds’ participation in memory. Our research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation.
  • Study comparing interpretations of non-specific quantifiers between adult native-English speakers and adult Chinese speakers learning English. This work used a questionnaire format to examine how, in learning, the building of lexical forms from semantic representations is perhaps mediated by cultural influences on language use and cognition, and might require significant modification with the addition of a second language to a first.
  • Study investigating how a perceptual feature such as color may prime a conceptual representations providing access to lexical items. Data suggests that color and related words provide sufficient information to encode lexical items for superior performance in a word recognition task.
  • Sociolinguistic observational study comparing responses of naïve American English speaking subjects in a business setting to discordant accent and appearance pairings. Results suggest shift from negative to positive interactions based on stereotypical expectations of presented appearance or accent.
  • Developmental study comparing adult data from syntactic rule-governed study with child data and adult English speakers data with that of native Chinese speakers learning English.
  • Experimental study of whether the mirror memory effects of variation of word frequency – as observed in my earlier work – can be maintained for semantic associates similarly matched and varied for frequency.


  • Correlational study of factors responsible for significant effects of Empty Nest Syndrome. Research to be designed will investigate variation in parental characteristics and relationships as contributory to severity of negative affect.
  • Experimental study of language deficits and executive function among verbal autistic children. Research suggests language deficits may be a result of social deficits. This study would investigate the trade off between cognition and socialization in language acquisition.