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Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2014/2015

Term: 2

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Elisabet Service


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 505

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 21352

Office Hours: By appointment in TSH-614

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, 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.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

No textbook is used but Kemmerer: Cognitive Neuroscience of Language. New York: Psychology Press, 2015, is recommended as background reading. Additional readings will consist of scientific articles announced in class.

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 20% (a minimum of 6 topics is scored A+,  4–5 answers is B+, and 3 answers is C+ and less than 3 answers F for this component). Students are also asked to write summaries of selected readings. These will be shared in groups of four and the group will submit a joint "best" version. All members of the group get the same shared grade for these. The summaries will make up 20% of the grade. Finally, each student is asked to find an article of interest to them and make a short powerpoint or equivalent presentation of its contents and upload it on Avenue.  This will make up the remaining 20% of the grade.  One grade point (worth one step on the lettergrade ladder, e.g., from B+ to A–) can be earned by participating for two hours in research conducted at the Department of Linguistics and Languages. 

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 are absent from class have to make up for missed work.

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 are absent from class have to make up for missed work.

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 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:

This tentative syllabus will be updated during the term and writing assignments will be specified.




1: Jan. 5 and 8

Introduction to class, classical aphasia


2: Jan. 13 and 15

Primary progressive aphasia, EEG


3: Jan. 20 and 22 



4: Jan. 27 and 29

Speech perception


5: Feb. 3 and 5

Speech production


6: Feb. 10 and 12

Object noun meaning


7: Feb. 17 and 19

Reading week

No class

8: Feb. 24 and 26

Action verb meaning


9: Mar. 3 and 5

Abstract word meaning


10: Mar. 10 and 12



11: Mar. 17 and 19

Sentence production


12: Mar. 24 and 26

Sentence comprehension


13: March 31 and Apr. 2



14: April 7