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Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2013/2014

Term: 2

Day/Evening: E

Instructor: Prof. Deanna Friesen


Office: TSH 602

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23761

Office Hours: Tuesday 10am to 12pm

Course Objectives:

Neuroimaging technologies have provided remarkable insights into the areas of the brain that are involved in language processing. This course will survey the current scientific literature dealing with the neuroimaging of normal and pathological brain function as related to language processes.

Organization of the Course

Classes will follow a lecture/seminar format during the 3 hour scheduled class. During the first 2 hours, textbook material will be supplemented by additional research, films, demonstrations and class discussion. The third hour will follow a seminar structure. Students will choose a relevant article based on that week’s readings and present its contents to a group of 5 students.The required readings from the textbook are central to the course. The lectures will serve to enrich, clarify, and illustrate crucial issues from the assigned readings

Course Learning Objectives

The purpose of this course is to assist students in both understanding the research on language processing and in thinking critically about the material by drawing on both theory and research from the cognitive neuroscience of language.  

By the end of the course,

- students should have a good understanding of how neuroscience can be used to answer questions about cognitive processing.

- students should understand how research informs theory and vice versa.

- students should be able to critically evaluate research and efficiently seek out further information on a  covered topic. 

- students should gain experience summarizing and interpreting articles in their papers.

- students should further develop their oral presentation skills & writing ability.


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Denes, G (2011). Talking Heads: The Neuroscience of Language. New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Additional readings may be assigned or recommended during the course

Method of Assessment:

The final grade for the course will be based on the following items weighted as indicated:

Weekly Papers:          (2.5% X10)      25%

Preface:                                                 5%   

Participation:                                        10%

Midterm Test:                                      30%

Final Examination:                              30%

1-page papers (2.5% for each paper, 10 in total)

Students will be required to submit a 1-page paper at the end of each class. This paper will be based on an article of your choice. Once you have read the chapter for the week, generate some research questions based on the chapter (i.e., a topic you'd like to learn more about) and seek out an an answer in the literature (e.g., psychinfo, pubmed) by reading 1 article.

Your paper should describe the question that you had reading the chapter, describe how and whether the article answered that question & finally describe any additional questions that still remain. You must also include a second page that contains the article’s reference in APA format & the abstract (copy & paste).

Participation (10%)

Class success depends on the participation of all students. At the end of the lecture component of each class, students will form groups of 5. Each student will take 5 minutes to inform their group about the additional article that you read that week and answer any questions. You will each complete a KWL chart and attach it to your 1-page paper at the end of each class.

To submit at the end of class each week

Page 1: Article Reference & Abstract

Page 2: 1 page double-spaced paper (worth 2.5%)

Page 3:  KWL Chart (1% for participation)

NOTE: You will not be graded on your paper if you do not submit a KWL chart.

EXCEPTIONS: You may submit a late paper with appropriate medical documentation.


Students will keep their weekly assignments assembled in a soft cover binder. This binder will be resubmitted at the end of the term with a 2 page preface that describes its contents. The preface should bring together themes found in your papers.  


Two non-cumulative exams will be given. Each will last 3 hours and be composed of multiple choice questions, identification questions & short-answer questions.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Lateness Policy:  Late assignments will not be accepted. Exceptions to this policy may be made for valid reasons such as illness, compassionate grounds, etc.but will require supporting documentation (e.g., a doctor’s letter).

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Integrity

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity. It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  • plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  • improper collaboration in group work.
  • copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Authenticity / Plagiarism Detection

Some courses may use a web-based service ( to reveal authenticity and ownership of student submitted work. For courses using such software, students will be expected to submit their work electronically either directly to or via Avenue to Learn (A2L) plagiarism detection (a service supported by so it can be checked for academic dishonesty.

Students who do not wish to submit their work through A2L and/or must still submit an electronic and/or hardcopy to the instructor. No penalty will be assigned to a student who does not submit work to or A2L. All submitted work is subject to normal verification that standards of academic integrity have been upheld (e.g., on-line search, other software, etc.). To see the Policy, please go to

Courses with an On-Line Element

Some courses use on-line elements (e.g. e-mail, Avenue to Learn (A2L), LearnLink, web pages, capa, Moodle, ThinkingCap, etc.). Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of a course using these elements, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in a course that uses on-line elements will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.

Online Proctoring

Some courses may use online proctoring software for tests and exams. This software may require students to turn on their video camera, present identification, monitor and record their computer activities, and/or lockdown their browser during tests or exams. This software may be required to be installed before the exam begins.

Conduct Expectations

As a McMaster student, you have the right to experience, and the responsibility to demonstrate, respectful and dignified interactions within all of our living, learning and working communities. These expectations are described in the Code of Student Rights & Responsibilities (the "Code"). All students share the responsibility of maintaining a positive environment for the academic and personal growth of all McMaster community members, whether in person or online.

It is essential that students be mindful of their interactions online, as the Code remains in effect in virtual learning environments. The Code applies to any interactions that adversely affect, disrupt, or interfere with reasonable participation in University activities. Student disruptions or behaviours that interfere with university functions on online platforms (e.g. use of Avenue 2 Learn, WebEx or Zoom for delivery), will be taken very seriously and will be investigated. Outcomes may include restriction or removal of the involved students' access to these platforms.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) at 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. For further information, consult McMaster University’s Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities policy.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

Request for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work
McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar "Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work".

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances (RISO)

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religious, indigenous or spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the RISO policy. Students should submit their request to their Faculty Office normally within 10 working days of the beginning of term in which they anticipate a need for accommodation or to the Registrar's Office prior to their examinations. Students should also contact their instructors as soon as possible to make alternative arrangements for classes, assignments, and tests.

Copyright and Recording

Students are advised that lectures, demonstrations, performances, and any other course material provided by an instructor include copyright protected works. The Copyright Act and copyright law protect every original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work, including lectures by University instructors.

The recording of lectures, tutorials, or other methods of instruction may occur during a course. Recording may be done by either the instructor for the purpose of authorized distribution, or by a student for the purpose of personal study. Students should be aware that their voice and/or image may be recorded by others during the class. Please speak with the instructor if this is a concern for you.

Extreme Circumstances

The University reserves the right to change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances (e.g., severe weather, labour disruptions, etc.). Changes will be communicated through regular McMaster communication channels, such as McMaster Daily News, A2L and/or McMaster email.

Topics and Readings:




Jan 6th

Course Introduction & The Anatomy of Language

Chapter 3

Jan 13th


Chapter 4

Jan 20th


Chapter 5

Jan 27th

the Lexicon I

Chapter 6

Feb 3rd

the Lexicon II

Chapter 6

Feb 10th

Sentence Processing

Chapter 7

Feb 17th


Feb 24th

Midterm (30%)

Chaps 3 to 7 & lecture material

Mar 3rd

Reading I:

Chapter 8 (p.150 - 160)

Mar 10th

Reading II:

Chapter 8 (p.161- 172)

Mar 17th


Chapter 9

Mar 24th

Sign Language

Chapter 10


Mar 31th

Language Acquisition

Chapter 11

April 7th

Future Directions

Preface & binder due

to be announced


Final exam during exam period