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John Connolly, PhD

Director of ARiEAL

Professor, Department of Linguistics and Languages, McMaster University 

Co-DirectorLanguage, Memory and Brain Lab, McMaster University 

Supervisory Member, McMaster Integrative Neuroscience Discovery & Study (MiNDS) 

Associate Member, Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour 

Faculty, School of Biomedical Engineering

Faculty Affiliate, Vector Institute

Togo Salmon Hall, Room 506, McMaster University
1280 Main Street West


Office Phone: (905) 525-9140 x27095


Dr. John Connolly is the Senator William McMaster Chair in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Language (2010; renewed 2015). He co-directs the Language, Memory & Brain Lab with Dr. Elisabet Service.  

His areas of investigation include the cognitive neuroscience of language with particular emphasis on the use of brain imaging techniques (e.g., event-related potentials, magnetoencephalography, and functional magnetic resonance imaging) in the study of speech processing and reading. His research includes applications to brain injury with reference to disorders of consciousness in the unresponsive wakefulness syndrome, minimally conscious states and coma. This work focuses on developing brain imaging tools to enable the assessment of cognitive functioning in patients who are unable to communicate through language or gestureHis work also includes research in both assessment and brain-computer interfacing with locked-in syndrome patients 

Dr. Connolly has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals for 35 years. He has been an invited speaker at numerous scientific conferences in Europe, Asiaand North America. His research has been supported by Canadian, American, British, and European funding agencies. He has served on the Editorial Board and as an Associate Editor of Clinical Neurophysiology, on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Psychophysiology, and reviews regularly for a range of journals. He has also served as reviewer for North American, European and Asian agencies and institutions and as a panel reviewer for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Defense.

Representative Publications

Mah, R., Connolly, J. (2018) A framework for the extended monitoring of levels of cognitive function in unresponsive patients. PLoS ONE 13 (7): e0200793. pone.0200793 

Blain-Moraes, S., Boshra, R., Ma, H. K., Mah, R., Ruiter, K., Avidan, M., Connolly, J., & Mashour, G. A. (2016). Normal Brain Response to Propofol in Advance of Recovery from Unresponsive Wakefulness Syndrome. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience10(June), 1–6. 

Harrison, A. H., & Connolly, J. F. (2013). Finding a way in: A review and practical evaluation of fMRI and EEG for detection and assessment in disorders of consciousness. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews37(8), 1403–1419. 

Newman, R., Forbes, K., & Connolly, J. (2012). Event-related potentials and magnetic fields associated with spoken word recognition. In M. Spivey, M. F. Joanisse, & K. McRae (Eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Psycholinguistics (pp. 127–156). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. 

Gawryluk, J. R., D’Arcy, R. C., Connolly, J. F., & Weaver, D. F. (2010). Improving the clinical assessment of consciousness with advances in electrophysiological and neuroimaging techniques. BMC Neurol10, 11. 

Duncan, C. C., Barry, R. J., Connolly, J. F., Fischer, C., Michie, P. T., Näätänen, R., … Van Petten, C. (2009). Event-related potentials in clinical research: Guidelines for eliciting, recording, and quantifying mismatch negativity, P300, and N400Clinical Neurophysiology120(11), 1883–1908. 

Newman, R. L., & Connolly, J. F. (2009). Electrophysiological markers of pre-lexical speech processing: Evidence for bottom-up and top-down effects on spoken word processingBiological Psychology80(1), 114–121. 

Kujala, A., Alho, K., Service, E.Ilmoniemi, R. J., & Connolly, J. F. (2004). Activation in the anterior left auditory cortex associated with phonological analysis of speech input: Localization of the phonological mismatch negativity response with MEGCognitive Brain Research21(1), 106–113. 

Helenius, P., Salmelin, R., Service, E., Connolly, J. F., Leinonen, S., & Lyytinen, H. (2002). Cortical activation during spoken-word segmentation in nonreading-impaired and dyslexic adults. The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience22(7), 2936–2944. 

Current Graduate Students

  • , PhD Candidate (co-supervision), School of Biomedical Engineering, McMaster University
  • , PhD Candidate, McMaster Integrative Neuroscience Discovery & Study, McMaster University 
  • , PhD Candidate, Cognitive Science of Language Program, McMaster University
  • , PhD Candidate, Cognitive Science of Language Program, McMaster University
  • PhD Candidate (co-supervision)Cognitive Science of Language Program, McMaster University
  • PhD Candidate (co-supervision), Integrated Program in Neuroscience (IPN), McGill University
  • , PhD Candidate, Cognitive Science of Language Program, McMaster University
  • , PhD Candidate, Cognitive Science of Language Program, McMaster University
  • , MSc Candidate, McMaster Integrative Neuroscience Discovery & Study, McMaster University
  • , MSc Candidate, McMaster Integrative Neuroscience Discovery & Study, McMaster University
  • , MASc Candidate (co-supervision), Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, McMaster University