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LINGUIST 4NN3 Cognitive Neurolinguistics La (C01)

Academic Year: Fall 2018

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. John Connolly


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 506

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27095


Office Hours: By appointment

Course Objectives:

The course consists of traditional lectures, with writing assignments related to the readings. The objective is to: 1) learn about research on brain processes related to language in healthy, typically developed people as well as those with acquired brain injuries and neurodevelopmental disorders; 2) gain observational and hands-on experience in EEG technology and its relationship to other brain imaging tools; 3) understand the value-added features of EEG technology in basic and clinical research; 4) practice reading of scientific articles and concise writing by writing “abstract” (200 word) summaries; and, 5) write one-page individual reflection on your experience in the course and contribute to one-page group reflection.

At the end of the class, the students are expected to have sufficient knowledge of the neurocognitive mechanisms of language and the neurophysiological methods used to measure them to enable the evaluation of empirical research results that map language functions to brain systems and processes. They will also have developed skills to recognize the key points of scientific articles, summarize them, and critically evaluate their conclusions. Further, they should have benefited from and contributed to peer-to-peer knowledge transfer and developed skills for working as members of a team. They also will have learned the importance of deadlines.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

This is designed as an advanced undergraduate course covering a fast moving field of investigation. Therefore, there is no textbook but students will be given/asked to find articles to read and summarize. The course will cover selected chapters from S.J. Luck’s An Introduction to the Event-Related Potential Technique, Second Edition (Cambridge: MIT Press) that can be used as background reading. 

Method of Assessment:

There will be four (4) elements of the course receiving grades:

1. Participation – 20%

2. Mid Term Exam – 35%

3. Abstracts – 35%

4. Reflection – 10%

The class will be divided into groups (size being determined by the total enrolment). Laboratory visits will organized by group assuming the class size prohibits the entire class being in the lab together. Participation is evaluated by attendance at laboratory observation/experience (O/E) sessions and active discussion of assigned papers in class and is worth 15%. An in-term exam of multiple choice/short-answer format on the lectures and initial readings (the Luck chapters and initial methodology articles) is worth 35%. Abstracts (5 in total) are worth a total of 35%. The first four (4) abstracts will be worth 5% each and will be done by each student. The due dates for the first four (4) Abstracts will be determined during the first class meeting. The last Abstract will be done by group that will work together to compose a “best” group-based abstract. This group abstract will be worth the remaining 15% of the total for Abstracts (i.e., 35%). Each member of the group will receive the same group grade for this final abstract. This 5th and final Abstract is due by 17:00/5:00pm on Friday, 30th November, 2018. The Reflection element (worth 10%) is done individually and is meant to encourage the student to evaluate their performance in the class, what they believe they learned, what skills they acquired or improved, and which skills or experiences may be applicable to the student in the future. The Reflection is due by 17:00/5:00pm on Tuesday, 4th December, 2018.

*The lab facilities/equipment are both costly and shared by all of the class groups, as well as by other students and researchers. Failure to properly clean the equipment and facilities will result in a 5% deduction from the final grade for everyone in the offending group on the first offense. A second offense will result in a 15% deduction for the entire offending group. A third (and final) offense may lead to the suspension of lab privileges – this will seriously hamper (quite possibly prevent) your ability to achieve a passing grade in the course.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Being late on an assignment (e.g., Abstract(s), Reflection) results in a grade level reduction on the assignment grade (e.g. B+ becomes B) if the assignment is late by less than 12 hours. Being late more than 12 hours results in a grade of zero for the assignment. Missed work and extensions categorized as late work and follow the procedure outlined in the preceding sentence. 

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:

Topics (subject to change): 

  • Brain imaging techniques
  • Principles of EEG/MEG
  • Attention & Memory
  • ERP/MEG in language-related research
  • Principles of ERP analysis techniques
  • Applications in Disorders of consciousness, neurodevelopmental disorders, acquired brain injuries, and disorders of language

Readings: See above.

Other Course Information:

A half grade (i.e., the change from B to B+) can be earned by participating for two hours (two credits on the SONA system) in research conducted in the Department of Linguistics and Languages and/or the ARiEAL Research Centre. As this course concerns itself with research and research methods, students are encouraged to participate in research not only for credit points but for furthering their understanding of research generally and the varied approaches adopted by different research groups.