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Elisabet Service, PhD

Full Member of ARiEAL

Professor, Department of Linguistics and Languages, McMaster University

Chair, Graduate Program, Department of Linguistics and Languages, McMaster University

Co-Director, Language, Memory and Brain Lab, McMaster University

Adjunct Professor (Docent), Department of Psychology and Logopedics, University of Helsinki

Togo Salmon Hall, Room 505, McMaster University
1280 Main Street West


Office Phone: (905) 525-9140 x21352



Dr. Elisabet Service is a Professor and the Graduate Program Chair in the Department of Linguistics and Languages at McMaster University. She co-directs the Language, Memory & Brain Lab with Dr. John Connolly. Their lab combines experimental behavioural methods and collaborative research studying brain responses with different methodologies (ERP, fMRI). 

Dr. Service’s research incorporates three major elements: working memory, language and dyslexia. She started her research career in Helsinki, Finland, by investigating how working memory is involved in learning a second or foreign language. It turned out that phonological aspects of memory, i.e. the ability to form representations for how foreign words sound, were a powerful predictor for ease of language learning. As this type of memory is also critical in learning to read, Dr. Service expanded into research on the causes of dyslexia. Over the years, she has done basic research in the area of memory, but also applied working memory concepts and methods for studying morphological complexity in the mental lexicon, sentence processing, language acquisition, bilingualism, reading difficulty, and developmental language disorder (DLD). Dr. Service has mainly used memory tasks, but also EEG and MEG (magnetoencephalography) based measures in collaborative projects. She is still looking for the elementary cognitive building blocks that play a key role in language development, language learning and successful literacy, lately concentrating on representation of serial order in working memory. 

Representative Publications

Bartošová, J., Chapman, C., Kučerová, I., & Service, E. (2020). Making Semantic Commitments Can Be Delayed: Evidence From Aspectual Processing. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology/Revue canadienne de psychologie expérimentale. Advance online publication.

Ylinen, S., Nora, A. & Service, E. (2020) Better phonological short-term memory is linked to improved cortical memory representations for word forms and better word learning. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 14, 209.

Ho, A., Boshra, R., Schmidtke, D., Oralova, G., Moro, A. L., Service, E., & Connolly, J. F. (2019). Electrophysiological evidence for the integral nature of tone in Mandarin spoken word recognition. Neuropsychologia, 131, 325-332.

Service, E., & Maury, S. (2015). Differential recall of derived and inflected word forms in working memory: examining the role of morphological information in simple and complex working memory tasks. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience8, 1–16. 

Service, E., Yli-Kaitala, H., Maury, S., & Kim, J. Y. (2014). Adults’ and 8-Year-Olds’ Learning in a Foreign Word Repetition Task: Similar and Different. Language Learning64(2), 215–246. 

Laasonen, M., Virsu, V., Oinonen, S., Sandbacka, M., Salakari, A., & Service, E. (2012). Phonological and sensory short-term memory are correlates and both affected in developmental dyslexia. Reading and Writing25(9), 2247–2273. 

Service, E., Helenius, P., Maury, S., & Salmelin, R. (2007). Localization of syntactic and semantic brain responses using magnetoencephalography. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience19(7), 1193–1205. 

Salmelin, R., Service, E., Kiesilä, P., Uutela, K., & Salonen, O. (1996). Impaired visual word processing in dyslexia revealed with magnetoencephalographyAnnals of Neurology40(2), 157–162. 

Service, E. (1992). Phonology, Working Memory, and Foreign-language Learning. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology45(1), 21–50.


Current Graduate Students / Postdoctoral Fellows

  • PhD Student, Cognitive Science of Language Program, McMaster University
  • , PhD Student, Neuroscience Graduate Program, McMaster University
  • , PhD Student (Co-supervision), Cognitive Science of Language Program, McMaster University
  • , PhD Student, Cognitive Science of Language Program, McMaster University 
  • MSc Student, Cognitive Science of Language Program, McMaster University
  • , MSc Student, Cognitive Science of Language Program, McMaster University