Susan Gathercole



  • University of York
    BSc in Psychology
  • City University London

My research focusses mainly on memory (particularly working memory) and learning, in both children and adults.


  • Oxford University
    Postdoctoral researcher (1982 - 1984)
  • MRC Applied Psychology Unit
    Junior scientist (1984 - 1988)
  • Lancaster University
    Lecturer (1988 - 1993)
  • Bristol University
    Reader then Professor (1993-2001)
  • Durham University
    Professor (2001 - 2006)
  • University of York
    Professor (2006 - present)



  • Cognitive processes involved in short-term and working memory
  • Role played by short-term and working memory in supporting learning during childhood, in areas including vocabulary acquisition (native and foreign) and reading
  • Involvement of working memory in following instructions and place-keeping in tasks with a hierarchical structure
  • Educational intervention designed to improve the learning outcomes of children with poor working memory
  • Memory and executive function in children with ADHD subtypes

Research group(s)

  • Adult Cognition and Neuropsychology


  • Economic and Social Research Council
    Executive function in children with impairments of attention and working memory (£189k) ESRC: TP Alloway, SE Gathercole, M Place, J Elliott (2006 - 2008)
  • Economic and Social Research Council
    Working memory and learning: A screening and intervention programme (£390k) Gathercole (PI) & 4 others: ESRC (2005 - 2008)
  • Leverhulme Trust
    The binocular coordination of eye movements during reading (£58k) Leverhulme: S.P.Liversedge, S. E. Gathercole, J. Findlay (2005 - 2008)
  • British Academy
    A working memory intervention study for children with learning difficulties (£8k). British Academy: T. P. Alloway, S. E. Gathercole, and 2 others (2005)
  • Leverhulme Trust
    Investigating the development of working memory and children’s reading Leverhulme: S. P. Liversedge, S. E Gathercole (£52k) (2005 - 2007)
  • Economic and Social Research Council
    Development of an automated working memory test battery (£45k) ESRC: T. P. Alloway, S. E. Gathercole (2003 - 2004)
  • Medical Research Council
    Human memory and learning: A working memory approach (£69k) MRC: S. E. Gathercole, A. D. Baddeley, S. Della Sala, R. H. Logie, C. Jarrold (2001 - 2006)
  • Medical Research Council
    Working memory and under-achievement during the early school years (£200k) MRC: S. E Gathercole, A.-M. Adams, C. Willis (2001 - 2004)
  • Economic and Social Research Council
    Long-term knowledge effects in verbal short-term memory (£150k) ESRC: A. S. C. Thorn, S. E. Gathercole, C. R. Frankish (2001 - 2004)
  • Wellcome Trust
    Routes through memory to the acquisition of knowledge in childhood (£300K) Wellcome Trust: S. E. Gathercole, D. Gadian, F.Vargha-Khadem, J. Golding (2000 - 2001)
  • Economic and Social Research Council
    Phonological short-term memory and single-word reading (£40K) ESRC: C. Frankish, S. E. Gathercole (1999 - 2000)
  • Economic and Social Research Council
    Language specialisation in short-term memory(£40k) ESRC: A. Thorn, S. E. Gathercole, C. Frankish (1998 - 1999)
  • McDonnell Partnership
    Development of a new reading test (£26K) McDonnell Partnership: A. D. Baddeley & S. E. Gathercolev (1997 - 1998)
  • Medical Research Council
    Language development, phonological memory and otitis media with effusion (£38k) MRC: S. E. Gathercole and 5 others (1997)
  • Medical Research Council
    Working memory and learning disabilities (£1.1m) MRC programme: A. D. Baddeley, S. E. Gathercole (1995 - 2001)
  • Medical Research Council
    Two standardised phonological short-term memory tests for children and adults (£30K) MRC: S. E. Gathercole (1995 - 1996)
  • Economic and Social Research Council
    Investigating experimental analogues of natural vocabulary acquisition (£47K) ESRC: S. E. Gathercole, G. Hitch (1993 - 1995)
  • Economic and Social Research Council
    Phonological memory and long-term learning in preschool children (£60k) ESRC: S. E. Gathercole (1990 - 1993)
  • Medical Research Council
    Working memory and the development of reading and vocabulary in children (£47K) MRC: S. E. Gathercole (1990 - 1993)

Available PhD research projects

Memory and learning in children and adults; typical and atypical function.


  • Debbora Hall
  • Pascale Engel


Selected publications

  • Gathercole, S. E. (2006). Nonword repetition and word learning: The nature of the relationship. Applied Psycholinguistics, 27, 513-543.
  • Conlin, J. A. & Gathercole, S. E. (i2006). Lexicality and interference in working memory in children and adults. Journal of Memory and Language.
  • Gathercole, S.E., Alloway, T.P., Willis, C.S., & Adams, A.M. (2006). Working memory in children with reading disabilities. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 93, 265-281.
  • Gathercole, S. E., & Alloway, T. P. (2006). Short-term and working memory impairments in neurodevelopmental disorders: Diagnosis and remedial support. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry. 47, 4-15.
  • Gathercole, S. E., Tiffany, C., Briscoe, J., Thorn, A. S. C., & ALSPAC Team (2005). Developmental consequences of poor phonological short-term memory function in childhood: A longitudinal study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 46, 598-611.


  • Alloway, T. P. & Gathercole, S. E. (2006). Working memory in neurodevelopmental conditions. Psychology Press.



  • Working Memory And Cognition In Children And Adults


  • Working memory in cognition in children and adults

External activities


  • Experimental Psychology Society
  • British Psychological Society
  • Psychonomics Society

Editorial duties

  • Memory

Contact details

Prof. Susan Gathercole
Department of Psychology
The University of York
York, YO10 5DD

Tel: 01904 432879