Hannah Witherstone
PhD student



  • BSc in Psychology,  Nottingham Trent University (2006 – 2009)
  • Research Assistant,  Nottingham Trent University (Summer 2008)
  • MSc Reading, Language and Cognition,  University of York (2009 – 2010)


I started my academic career at Nottingham Trent, where I completed my Undergraduate degree in Psychology.  In the summer of my second year I secured a job as a research assistant working on a project investigating children’s language development.  My involvement on this research project, along with my membership of the Specific Language Impairment Research Unit, led me to explore child language disorders for my Undergraduate dissertation.

After I graduated from Nottingham Trent, I managed to achieve a studentship which has allowed me to complete my Masters and PhD at the University of York.  My Masters dissertation investigated the cognitive deficits in language impairment, and my PhD builds on this.



Cognitive deficits in Specific Language Impairment


Specific Language Impairment (SLI) is a developmental disorder where children have wide-ranging difficulties with language despite unimpaired nonverbal skills.  I am predominately interested in the grammatical deficits associated with SLI in children aged between 5 and 7.  Throughout my PhD I will be exploring some of the possible explanations for these grammatical difficulties, with a particular focus on the non-linguistic cognitive domain.

The current project that I’m working on is investigating whether the grammatical problems in SLI are the result of impairment in the speed with which normal-rate language can be processed.  To examine this, I am using a simulation paradigm.  Here, the real-time grammatical awareness of typically-developing children is being assessed using stimuli presented at varying speech rates.  It is expected that SLI-like grammatical errors will be evident when the typically-developing children hear fast-rate sentences.     


ESRC 1+3 studentship (University of York, 2009 – 2013)




  • Development and Language, autumn 2010 and spring 2011
  • Research Methods demonstrating, autumn 2010
  • Research Methods spring 2011
  • Brain and Behaviour, spring 2011


Selected publications

Jones, G., & Witherstone, H. L. (2010). Lexical and sub-lexical knowledge influences the encoding, storage, and articulation of nonwords. Memory & Cognition, DOI: 10.3758/s13421-010-0045-0.

Talks given
  • Witherstone, H.L. and Jones, G. (2009).  Encoding and articulation in nonword repetition.  Experimental Psychology Society, London Meeting (poster)
  • Witherstone, H.L. and Jones, G. (2009).  Inflection ability in language-impaired children:  the strength of the lexical representation. The British Psychological Society Developmental Section Conference, Nottingham (poster)

Contact details

Hannah Witherstone
PhD student
Department of Psychology
Room PS/C124

Tel: 01904 43(3136)