Professor Susan Gathercole

Susan Gathercole

University position


Professor Susan Gathercole is pleased to consider applications from prospective PhD students.


Department of Psychiatry


MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit


Home page (personal home page)

Research Theme

Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience


I am a cognitive psychologist with interests in memory, learning and language. Until 2018 I was the Director of the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit (CBU) in Cambridge and am now based in Developmental Psychiatry. One strand of my research investigates the cognitive mechanisms and methods for ameliorating these difficulties. In recent years much of this research has involved the CALM research clinic for children with problems in attention, learning and memory supported by the MRC. A second strand investigates the mechanisms of cognitive training with the aim of guiding the design of effective therapeutic intervention for individuals with compromised cognitive function. Current work uses online training to provide highly-powered studies testing a new theory with Norris of how working memory training works.

Research Focus





neurodevelopmental disorders

Clinical conditions

Alzheimer's disease

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Childhood disorders

Cognitive impairment


Language disorders

Learning disabilities


Behavioural analysis

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Randomised control trials



Duncan Astle

Dennis Norris



Associated News Items



    Gathercole SE (2014), “Commentary: Working memory training and ADHD - where does its potential lie? Reflections on Chacko et al. (2014).” J Child Psychol Psychiatry 55(3):256-7 Details

    Wang S, Gathercole SE (2014), “Interference control in children with reading difficulties.” Child Neuropsychol :1-14 Details

    Yang T, Gathercole SE, Allen RJ (2014), “Benefit of enactment over oral repetition of verbal instruction does not require additional working memory during encoding.” Psychon Bull Rev 21(1):186-92 Details


    Dunning DL, Holmes J, Gathercole SE (2013), “Does working memory training lead to generalized improvements in children with low working memory? A randomized controlled trial.” Dev Sci 16(6):915-25 Details

    Wang S, Gathercole SE (2013), “Working memory deficits in children with reading difficulties: memory span and dual task coordination.” J Exp Child Psychol 115(1):188-97 Details

    Warmington M, Hitch GJ, Gathercole SE (2013), “Improving word learning in children using an errorless technique.” J Exp Child Psychol 114(3):456-65 Details


    Hall D, Gathercole SE (2011), “Serial recall of rhythms and verbal sequences: Impacts of concurrent tasks and irrelevant sound.” Q J Exp Psychol (Hove) 64(8):1580-92 Details


    Alloway TP, Gathercole SE, Elliott J (2010), “Examining the link between working memory behaviour and academic attainment in children with ADHD.” Dev Med Child Neurol 52(7):632-6 Details

    Holmes J, Gathercole SE, Dunning DL (2010), “Poor working memory: impact and interventions.” Adv Child Dev Behav 39:1-43 Details


    Alloway TP, Gathercole SE, Holmes J, Place M, Elliott JG, Hilton K (2009), “The diagnostic utility of behavioral checklists in identifying children with ADHD and children with working memory deficits.” Child Psychiatry Hum Dev 40(3):353-66 Details

    Alloway TP, Gathercole SE, Kirkwood H, Elliott J (2009), “The cognitive and behavioral characteristics of children with low working memory.” Child Dev 80(2):606-21 Details

    Archibald LM, Gathercole SE, Joanisse MF (2009), “Multisyllabic nonwords: more than a string of syllables.” J Acoust Soc Am 125(3):1712-22 Details

    Holmes J, Gathercole SE, Dunning DL (2009), “Adaptive training leads to sustained enhancement of poor working memory in children.” Dev Sci 12(4):F9-15 Details


    Engel PM, Santos FH, Gathercole SE (2008), “Are working memory measures free of socioeconomic influence?” J Speech Lang Hear Res 51(6):1580-7 Details

    Gathercole SE, Briscoe J, Thorn A, Tiffany C, ALSPAC Study Team (2008), “Deficits in verbal long-term memory and learning in children with poor phonological short-term memory skills.” Q J Exp Psychol (Hove) 61(3):474-90 Details

    Joseph HS, Liversedge SP, Blythe HI, White SJ, Gathercole SE, Rayner K (2008), “Children's and adults' processing of anomaly and implausibility during reading: evidence from eye movements.” Q J Exp Psychol (Hove) 61(5):708-23 Details


    Archibald LM, Gathercole SE (2007), “Nonword repetition in specific language impairment: more than a phonological short-term memory deficit.” Psychon Bull Rev 14(5):919-24 Details

    Keehner M, Gathercole SE (2007), “Cognitive adaptations arising from nonnative experience of sign language in hearing adults.” Mem Cognit 35(4):752-61 Details


    Alloway TP, Gathercole SE, Pickering SJ (2006), “Verbal and visuospatial short-term and working memory in children: are they separable?” Child Dev 77(6):1698-716 Details

    Archibald LM, Gathercole SE (2006), “Short-term and working memory in specific language impairment.” Int J Lang Commun Disord 41(6):675-93 Details

    Archibald LM, Gathercole SE (2006), “Nonword repetition: a comparison of tests.” J Speech Lang Hear Res 49(5):970-83 Details

    Archibald LM, Gathercole SE (2006), “Visuospatial immediate memory in specific language impairment.” J Speech Lang Hear Res 49(2):265-77 Details

    Gathercole SE, Alloway TP (2006), “Practitioner review: short-term and working memory impairments in neurodevelopmental disorders: diagnosis and remedial support.” J Child Psychol Psychiatry 47(1):4-15 Details

    Gathercole SE, Alloway TP, Willis C, Adams AM (2006), “Working memory in children with reading disabilities.” J Exp Child Psychol 93(3):265-81 Details

    Santos FH, Bueno OF, Gathercole SE (2006), “Errors in nonword repetition: bridging short- and long-term memory.” Braz J Med Biol Res 39(3):371-85 Details

    St Clair-Thompson HL, Gathercole SE (2006), “Executive functions and achievements in school: Shifting, updating, inhibition, and working memory.” Q J Exp Psychol (Hove) 59(4):745-59 Details


    Conlin JA, Gathercole SE, Adams JW (2005), “Stimulus similarity decrements in children's working memory span.” Q J Exp Psychol A 58(8):1434-46 Details

    Conlin JA, Gathercole SE, Adams JW (2005), “Children's working memory: investigating performance limitations in complex span tasks.” J Exp Child Psychol 90(4):303-17 Details

    Gathercole SE, Tiffany C, Briscoe J, Thorn A, ALSPAC team (2005), “Developmental consequences of poor phonological short-term memory function in childhood: a longitudinal study.” J Child Psychol Psychiatry 46(6):598-611 Details

    Lobley KJ, Baddeley AD, Gathercole SE (2005), “Phonological similarity effects in verbal complex span.” Q J Exp Psychol A 58(8):1462-78 Details

    Masoura EV, Gathercole SE (2005), “Contrasting contributions of phonological short-term memory and long-term knowledge to vocabulary learning in a foreign language.” Memory 13(3-4):422-9 Details

    Thorn AS, Gathercole SE, Frankish CR (2005), “Redintegration and the benefits of long-term knowledge in verbal short-term memory: an evaluation of Schweickert's (1993) multinomial processing tree model.” Cogn Psychol 50(2):133-58 Details


    Alloway TP, Gathercole SE, Willis C, Adams AM (2004), “A structural analysis of working memory and related cognitive skills in young children.” J Exp Child Psychol 87(2):85-106 Details

    Gathercole SE, Pickering SJ, Ambridge B, Wearing H (2004), “The structure of working memory from 4 to 15 years of age.” Dev Psychol 40(2):177-90 Details

    Spooner AL, Baddeley AD, Gathercole SE (2004), “Can reading accuracy and comprehension be separated in the Neale Analysis of Reading Ability?” Br J Educ Psychol 74(Pt 2):187-204 Details


    Farran EK, Jarrold C, Gathercole SE (2003), “Divided attention, selective attention and drawing: processing preferences in Williams syndrome are dependent on the task administered.” Neuropsychologia 41(6):676-87 Details


    Thorn AS, Gathercole SE, Frankish CR (2002), “Language familiarity effects in short-term memory: the role of output delay and long-term knowledge.” Q J Exp Psychol A 55(4):1363-83 Details


    Briscoe J, Gathercole SE, Marlow N (2001), “Everyday memory and cognitive ability in children born very prematurely.” J Child Psychol Psychiatry 42(6):749-54 Details

    Willis CS, Gathercole SE (2001), “Phonological short-term memory contributions to sentence processing in young children.” Memory 9(4):349-363 Details

    Willis CS, Gathercole SE (2001), “Phonological short-term memory contributions to sentence processing in young children.” Memory 9(4-6):349-63 Details