John F. Connolly

Professor and Senator Wm. McMaster Chair; Director, ARiEAL Research Centre; co-director of Language, Memory & Brain Laboratories, McMaster University

Dr. Connolly is Professor and Director of the ARiEAL Research Centre and co-directs the Language, Memory & Brain Laboratories located at McMaster University. He holds appointments in the School of Biomedical Engineering, the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, and the Department of Linguistics. He is also CSO and co-founder of VoxNeuro - at start-up health tech company (voxneuro.com)

Dr. Connolly received his PhD from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King's College London. Historically, he has investigated a range of cognitive functions – notably speech comprehension and reading as well as mechanisms of attention, memory and executive function – using primarily electroencephalography, magnetoencephalography and magnetic resonance imaging. His basic research in these areas segued into using these techniques to investigate early sensory and cognitive function following catastrophic brain injury. He pioneered the technique of computer presentation of psychometric assessment tests and simultaneous brain activity measurement. This technique was designed particularly for acquired brain-injury populations (e.g., stroke and traumatic brain injury) experiencing significant communication impairments that make traditional assessment methods difficult or impossible to implement. The application of brain activity measures in association with established cognitive assessment tests has proven to be of direct clinical value in hard-to-assess cases (e.g., unresponsive wakefulness syndrome/vegetative state and other disorders of consciousness). These methods are capable of providing neuropsychological performance assessments comparable to those obtained with traditionally administered tests in patients able to perform on such tests. The value-added element of the neurophysiological measures is they are objective, quantitative, and replicable rather than based on the subjective estimates of either the patient or healthcare personnel. This research has been adapted and expanded to investigate coma and concussion; and in call cases, can be used to assess cognitive health, inform treatment decisions and then track clinical progress. This work has generated patents and formed the foundation of VoxNeuro (voxneuro.com).

Dr. Connolly has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals for over 40 years, has been an invited speaker at numerous scientific conferences in Europe and North America. His research has been supported by Canadian, American, British, and European funding agencies.

Experience

  • –present
    Professor and Senator Wm. McMaster Chair; Director, ARiEAL Research Centre; and co-director of Language, Memory & Brain Laboratories, McMaster University