Lisa Henderson
Senior Lecturer



  • BSc Psychology, University of Hull (2005)
  • MSc Reading, Language and Cognition, University of York (2006)
  • Visiting Scholar, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (2009)
  • PhD Psychology, University of York (2010)


Graduated in Psychology from the University of Hull. Moved to York in 2006 to complete a PhD on semantic processing in children with and without language impairments with Maggie Snowling and Paula Clarke. Held a post-doctoral position at York with Gareth Gaskell on language acquisition and sleep in children before becoming a Lecturer in 2012. Current areas of research include reading and language development, disorders of reading and language (including autism, dyslexia and specific language impairment), the role of sleep in memory consolidation across development, and the use of event-related potentials and EEG for measuring language processes in children.

Departmental roles

  • Co-Director of the MSc in Development, Disorders and Clinical Practice
  • PhD Admissions Tutor
  • Test Library Manager
  • Ethics Committee



  • Word learning, sleep and memory consolidation in children
  • Causes of language learning difficulties in dyslexia and autism
  • Predictors of reading and language development in autism
  • The use of coloured overlays during reading in dyslexia 

I am interested in language and reading development and the neurological mechanisms that underpin language processes and language learning. My aim is to take this knowledge through to application to build causal models of language learning impairment, through the study of dyslexia, autism and specific language impairment. Ultimately, I’m interested in how we can promote language learning across development. My research uses traditional psycholinguistic paradigms, cognitive assessment, techniques that measure language processes as they occur in real time (such as EEG/event related potentials and eye tracking) and most recently the study of sleep EEG as a tool for examining the neurological mechanisms underlying word learning across development. 


I have been involved in a Leverhulme Trust funded grant which aims to examine novel word learning and the role of sleep in children and adults (with Gareth Gaskell, Anna Weighall and Kirsten Bartlett). This research built on seminal studies conducted at York by Gareth Gaskell and colleagues showing that slow wave sleep is associated with strengthening of new phonological representations and sleep spindle activity is important for the integration of novel words with the lexicon. We found that sleep is associated with the integration and consolidation of new word representations in children. This finding is important since many studies have focused on the immediate consequences of word learning in children and have conceptualized word learning as a “relatively simple affair”. On the contrary, our data suggest that children’s word learning should be considered as the start of a prolonged consolidation process.

We recently completed a Waterloo Foundation funded grant ‘SleepTalk!’ on memory consolidation and sleep in children with dyslexia and without dyslexia. We found that children with dyslexia show weaknesses in their ability to encode novel words when compared to age-matched controls, and retain less novel word knowledge one week after initial learning even when compared to younger children matched on initial encoding levels. Most strikingly, whilst sleep parameters (i.e., slow wave activity) correlated with overnight changes in memory for new words in typically developing children, there were no correlations between sleep parameters and overnight changes in memory in the dyslexic group. This suggests that sleep is playing a different role in dyslexia.

We recently won a large grant from the ESRC to extend this work to children with autism spectrum disorder with varying language profiles (i.e., the ‘SleepSmart’ project). For more information see


  • Gareth Gaskell
  • Anna Weighall
  • Jessica Horst
  • Faye Smith
  • Meesha Warmington
  • Courtenay Norbury
  • Maggie Snowling
  • Paula Clarke
  • Heidi Baseler 


PhD Students

  • Emma James
  • Sarah Wu


Postdoctoral Researchers

  • Victoria Knowland
  • Fay Fletcher
  • Sarah Watson

Available PhD research projects

I would be particularly interested to hear from postgraduates interested in vocabulary acquisition and sleep in children and reading and language difficulties associated with autism and dyslexia. 


Selected publications

  • James, E., Gaskell, M.G., Weighall, A.R., & Henderson, L.M. (accepted). Consolidation of vocabulary during sleep: the rich get richer? Neuroscience and Biobehavioural Reviews.
  • Henderson, L. M., & Warmington, M. (2017). A sequence learning impairment in dyslexia? It depends on the task. Research in Developmental Disabilities60, 198-210.
  • Weighall, A. R., Henderson, L. M., Barr, D. J., Cairney, S. A., & Gaskell, M. G. (2016). Eye-tracking the timeā€course of novel word learning and lexical competition in adults and children. Brain and Language.
  • Griffiths, P. G., Taylor, R. H., Henderson, L. M., & Barrett, B. T. (2016). The effect of coloured overlays and lenses on reading: a systematic review of the literature. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics36(5), 519-544.
  • Smith, F. R., & Henderson, L. M. (2016). Sleep problems in children with dyslexia: understanding the role of sleep in neurocognitive development through the lens of developmental disorders. Acta Paediatrica105(9), 999-1000.
  • Henderson, L.M., Devine, K., Weighall, A., & Gaskell, M.G. (2015). When the daffodat flew to the intergalactic zoo: Off-line consolidation is critical for word learning from stories. Developmental Psychology, 51, 406-417. 
  • Henderson, L.M., Clarke, P.J., & Snowling, M.J. (2015). Reading comprehension impairments in autism spectrum disorder. L’Annee psychologique, 114, 779-797. 
  • Henderson, L.M., Taylor, R.H., Barrett, B., & Griffiths, P.G. (2014). Treating reading difficulties with colour. British Medical Journal, 349, g5160.
  • Henderson, L.M., Powell, A., Gaskell, M.G., & Norbury, C. (2014). Learning and consolidation of new spoken words in autism spectrum disorder. Developmental Science, 17, 858-71.
  • Henderson, L.M., Weighall, A., & Gaskell, M.G. (2013). Learning new vocabulary during childhood: effects of semantic training on lexical consolidation and integration. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 116, 572-92.
  • Henderson, L.M., Weighall, A., Brown, H., & Gaskell, M.G. (2013). On-line lexical competition during spoken word recognition and word learning in children and adults. Child Development, 84, 1668-1685.
  • Henderson, L.M., Snowling, M.J., Clarke, P. (2013). Accessing, integrating and inhibiting word meaning in poor comprehenders. Scientific Studies of Reading, 0, 1-22.
  • Henderson, L.M., Tsogka, A., & Snowling, M.J. (2012). Questioning of the use of coloured overlays in adults with and without dyslexia. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs.
  • Henderson, L.M., Weighall, A., Brown, H., & Gaskell, M.G. (2012). Consolidation of vocabulary is associated with sleep in children. Developmental Science, 15, 674-687.
  • Brown, H., Weighall, A., Henderson, L.M., & Gaskell, M.G. (2012). Enhanced recognition and recall of new words in 7- and 12-year-old children following a period of offline consolidation. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 112, 56-72.
  • Henderson, L.M., Clarke, P., & Snowling, M.J. (2011). Accessing and selecting word meaning in autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology, 52, 964 – 73.
  • Henderson, L.M., Baseler, .H.A, Clarke, P.J., Watson, S., & Snowling, M.J. (2011). The N400 effect in children: Relationships with comprehension, vocabulary and decoding. Brain and Language, 117, 88-99.
  • Snowling, M.J., Nash, H.M., & Henderson, L.M. (2008). The development of literacy skills in children with Down syndrome: Implications for intervention. Down Syndrome Research and PracticeOn-line publication.  
  • Henderson, L.M., Barca, L., & Ellis, A.W. (2007). Interhemispheric cooperation and non-cooperation during word recognition: evidence for callosal transfer dysfunction in dyslexic adults. Brain and Language, 103 (3), 276-291. 
  • Singleton, C., & Henderson, L.M. (2007). Computerised screening for visual stress in children with dyslexia. Dyslexia, 13, 130-151.
  • Singleton, C., & Henderson, L.M. (2007). Computerised screening for visual stress in reading. Journal of Research in Reading, 30(3), 316-332.
  • Singleton, C., & Henderson, L.M. (2006). Visual factors in reading. London Review of Education, 1, 89-98. 

Contact details

Dr Lisa Henderson
Senior Lecturer
Department of Psychology
Room PS/E210

Tel: 01904 324362