Researcher Profile

Ken McRae

Ken McRae


BMI Core Member



Associated Websites:

McRae Cognitive Science Lab

Contact Information:
(519) 661-2111 x80449

Research Areas

Cognition and behaviour

Computational brain sciences

Development and aging


I was born in Smiths Falls, Ontario, a small town in the Ottawa Valley. As a teenager, I moved to Beaconsfield, Quebec, on the west island of Montreal. My undergraduate degree is in Cognitive Science from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. My Honour's thesis was with Brian Butler, with Doug Mewhort providing invaluable assistance. My graduate work was at McGill University in Montreal under Mark Seidenberg. My initial projects concerned how people read aloud printed words, testing Seidenberg and McClelland's (1989) neural network model. My doctoral dissertation focused on people's memory for the meaning of words, conducting experiments with adult human participants to test ideas based on neural networks. My Postdoctoral research was at the University of Rochester with Mike Tanenhaus. I jumped "up" a step there to study how people understand sentences. Also, I met Michael Spivey at Rochester, and we have collaborated over the years.

I began as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Western Ontario in 1993. I am still at UWO, where I have been a Professor since 2005. Our research continues to focus on word meaning and how people figure out the meaning of sentences. We incorporate neural imaging experiments (ERP and some fMRI), in addition to experiments with normal adults (including word processing, sentence reading, and eyetracking experiments), and neural network modeling. I am also involved in research on patient populations, most notably concerning individuals with Parkinson's Disease.

I have been extremely lucky to work with numerous excellent graduate and undergraduate students who have gone on to careers in academia, communicative disorders, neuropsychology, medicine, law, business, and private sector research. I am also wildly indebted to many excellent mentors and colleagues over the years.

Currently, I serve as the Associate Dean Research for the Faculty of Social Sciences at UWO.