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LINGUIST 3NL3 Cognitive Neurosci of Languag (C01)

Academic Year: Fall 2018

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Elisabet Service


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 505

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 21352

Office Hours: TSH-505 by appointment

Course Objectives:

The course consists of traditional lectures and writing assignments related to these and specific readings.  The objective is to 1) learn about research on brain processes related to language in adults, 2) practice reading of scientific articles and concise writing by answering questions and writing one-page summaries. 3) Find and describe at least one scientific article on a topic of interest to the student.

At the end of the class, the students are expected to have sufficient knowledge of brain areas and neurophysiological methods to allow them to evaluate empirical research results that map language functions to brain systems and processes. They will also have practised skills to recognize the main points of scientific articles, summarize them, and critically weigh their conclusions. They are further expected to have benefited from peer-to-peer knowledge transfer, and developed skills for organizing their work as members of a team, and for adhering to deadlines.


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

There is no textbook but students will be given/asked to find articles to read and summarize. The course will cover selected chapters from Kemmerer: Cognitive Neuroscience of Language. New York: Psychology Press, which can be used as background reading but is not assumed or allowed in the final exam.

Method of Assessment:

Grading of all evaluation components will be on a scale of 0 to 12, corresponding to letter marks. The final grade is a weighted average of these marks. A final exam of the short-answer format on the lectures and readings is worth 40% and written answers in class to questions related to class topics are worth 10% (4–5 topics is scored A+,  3 answers is B+, and 2 answers is C+ and less than 2 answers F for this component). Students are also asked to write summaries of selected readings. These will be shared in groups and the group will submit a joint "best" version after collaborating in class. All members of the group get the same shared grade for these, making up 20% of the grade. Finally, pairs of students are asked to find an article of interest to them and make a short powerpoint or equivalent presentation of its contents that they upload on Avenue.  This will make up the remaining 30% of the grade, shared by the members of the pair.  Half a grade point can be earned by participating for two hours (two credits on the SONA system) in research conducted at the Department of Linguistics and Languages. 

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Being late less than 48 hours on an assignment results in a reduction of one point on the 12-point scale of the assignment grade (e.g. A+ becomes A). Being late more than 48 hours results in a grade of zero for the assignment. Group members who did not submit individual work on time get zero for the group grade but can contact the instructor to submit a specific assignment individually.


Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

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.

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.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. 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:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

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.

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. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

To be announced in class.