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Gareth Gaskell



  • University of Cambridge
    BA in Experimental Psychology
  • University of London
    PhD in Psycholinguistics

Read Experimental Psychology at Cambridge, and then studied for a Ph.D. in psycholinguistics at Birkbeck College, London. Continued postdoctoral research on language at Birkbeck, before joining the scientific staff at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge. Moved to the Psychology Department in York in 1999. Current research interests focus on the intersection between psycholinguistics, sleep and memory consolidation. For example, I am interested in how we learn, retain, consolidate and or forget words.



I have two overlapping areas of research: psycholinguistics and sleep/memory research.

On the psycholinguistic side, recent research has looked at the representations and processes involved in the perception of spoken words. One important question in this domain addresses how listeners cope with the wide range of variation in the surface form of speech. I have been exploring the perceptual effects of a common source of these changes, phonological variation, which can neutralise phonemic distinctions in connected speech.

Another strand of research has examined issues of activation and competition between lexical candidates during the course of a word's perception. This research has led to the development of a connectionist model of speech perception based on the distributed representation of various types of lexical knowledge.

My interest in sleep and memory began when working on the factors involved in the development of lexical representations. The basic question here is how does a new word enter the mental lexicon and join in the competitive process of spoken word recognition. It seems that this lexicalisation process is associated with sleep.

I am Head of the Sleep, Language and Memory Laboratory in the Department, which gained new purpose-built facilities in January 2017. Here we can monitor sleep using polysomnography and correlate these recordings with behavioural changes in memory performance. A current interest relates to individual differences in the timecourse and process of consolidation of language.

Research group(s)

  • Language Processing
  • Adult Cognition and Neuropsychology


Current Grants

  • Jan 2016-Dec 2019     Joint Principal Investigator: Memory consolidation in typical and atypical development. ESRC Research Grant awarded to Henderson, Gaskell & Norbury. £1,019,000.
  • Jan 2015-Dec 2018     Coinvestigator. “How do children learn and consolidate new written words?” ARC Discovery grant awarded to Castles, Nation and Gaskell. A$661,200.

Recent Grants

  • ESRC Research Grant
    Principal Investigator: “Reactivation of declarative memory during sleep”, £302,000 (May 2012-April 2015).
  • ESRC Research Grant
    Coinvestigator: “The role of learning mechanisms in understanding language”. Awarded to Rodd, Gaskell & Davis. £386,000 (Mar 2014-Feb 2017).
  • ESRC Research Grant
    Principal Investigator: “Systematicity and consistency in the consolidation of word knowledge” with Jelena Mirkovic, £310,000 (Oct 2011-Sept 2014).
  • Leverhulme Trust
    Principal Investigator: “Novel word integration in adults and children” with Anna Weighall, £159,000 (Aug 2010-July 2014).
  • Waterloo Foundation
    Coinvestigator: “Dyslexia, sleep and co-occurrence.” Awarded to Henderson, Gaskell, Warmington and Weighall. £49,822 (Mar 2014-Apr 2015).


  • Mark Blagrove
    University of Swansea
  • Audrey Bürki
    University of Geneva
  • Anne Castles
    Macquarie University
  • Matt Davis
    MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit
  • Nicolas Dumay
    University of Exeter
  • Penny Lewis
    University of Manchester
  • Shane Lindsay
    University of Dundee
  • Kate Nation
    University of Oxford
  • Ken Paller
    Northwestern University
  • Elsa Spinelli
    University of Grenoble
  • Jakke Tamminen
    Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Matt Walker
    University of California, Berkeley
  • Anna Weighall
    Sheffield Hallam University
  • Pienie Zwitserlood
    University of Muenster

Available PhD research projects

I am happy to take on PhD students in the following areas:

  • Psycholinguistics
  • Sleep and memory consolidation

Questions that current PhD students are addressing include:

  • How do we learn new words?
  • What kind of representation do spoken words have in the mental lexicon?
  • What does sleep do to the representations of new memories?
  • How does memory consolidation relate to brain activity during sleep?

Potential PhD applicants can contact me to discuss these and other possibilities.


  • Emma James (Year 3, with Lisa Henderson)
  • Bardur Joensen (Year 2, with Aidan Horner)
  • Amanda Olson (Year 1, with Lisa Henderson)



  • Development and Language Teaching Blocks 5 & 6 (Years 1-2)
  • Cognitive Psychology of Sleep (Year 3)


Selected publications


Full publications list

See Google Scholar or the York Research Database for a more comprehensive list of downloadable papers.

External activities


  • Experimental Psychology Society
  • Psychonomic Society
  • Behavioral and Brain Sciences Associate
  • European Sleep Research Society

Editorial duties

  • Journal of Memory and Language 
    Associate Editor
  • Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
    Consulting Editor
  • Language, Cognition and Neuroscience
    Editorial Board

Contact details

Gareth Gaskell
Department of Psychology
Room PS/E209

Tel: 01904 323187