Jonathan Brennan studies the mental structures and computations used to understand words and sentences, with a focus on how these processes are implemented in the brain. His research uses formal computational models of language comprehension to investigate the neural correlates of basic cognitive computations such as lexical access, syntax, and semantics with electroencephalography (EEG), magnetoencephalography (MEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
He has a particular interest in experimental methods that are as natural as possible, such as having participants read or listen to a story, to focus on sentence processing as it occurs during every-day language use. Naturalistic techniques are especially suitable for the investigation of language comprehension in populations, such as children with autism spectrum disorder, for which standard experimental tasks are may not be appropriate. He directs the Computational Neurolinguistics Lab at the University of Michigan.