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Professor Usha Goswami FBA

Professor of Cognitive Developmental Neuroscience

Director, Centre for Neuroscience in Education

Fellow, St John's College, Cambridge

Usha Goswami is interested in taking PhD students.



B.A. (Hons) in Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford
P.G.C.E. University of London in Primary Education
D. Phil. in Developmental Psychology, University of Oxford

Membership of Professional Bodies/Associations


  • Society for Research in Child Development
  • Experimental Psychology Society
  • The British Psychological Society (Life Member)
  • British Neuropsychology Society
  • Society for the Scientific Study of Reading
  • Reading Hall of Fame
  • International Reading Association



Prior to moving to Cambridge in January 2003, Usha Goswami was Professor of Cognitive Developmental Psychology at the Institute of Child Health, University College London. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oxford in 1987, her topic was reading and spelling by analogy. Her research has covered the relations between phonology and reading, with special reference to rhyme and analogy in reading acquisition, and rhyme processing in dyslexic and deaf children's reading. A major focus of the research is cross-linguistic with projects including cross-language studies of the impact of deficits in auditory temporal processing on reading development and developmental dyslexia, neuroimaging studies of the neural networks underpinning reading in good and poor deaf adult readers, studies of reading development and its precursors in deaf children with cochlear implants, and a set of projects based around lexical statistics, investigating the impact of 'neighbourhood relations' (similarity relations such as rhyme) in phonological and orthographic processing in different languages.

Usha Goswami has received a number of career awards, including the British Psychology Society Spearman Medal (awarded for early career research excellence), the Norman Geschwind-Rodin Prize (a Swedish award for research excellence in the field of dyslexia), and Fellowships from the National Academy of Education (USA) and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany). In 2013 she was elected Fellow of the British Academy. She advised on the National Curriculum and the National Literacy Project, and was one of the three UK members of the Managing Committee of the European Concerted Action on Learning Disorders as a Barrier to Human Development (COST-A8). She is a member of the Neurosciences and Mental Health Board of the Medical Research Council, and of the Cross Board Group of the Medical Research Council. She is Associate Editor of Developmental Science, and is on the editorial boards of Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Reading and Writing, Reading Research Quarterly, Dyslexia, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Cognitive Development. From 2001-2005 she was Editor of Applied Psycholinguistics.

Research Interests

  • Cognitive development
  • Dyslexia
  • Reading development
  • Neuroscience in Education
  • Reasoning by analogy
  • Spelling development


  • Deveopmental Dyslexia: An Educational Neuroscience Approach (Jan 2011- Dec 2015) - MRC, £1.5M

(with Dr Matt Davis and Dr Denes Szucs, co-PIs;  Research Associates: Dr Martina Huss and Dr Alan Power, Research Assistants: Natasha Mead and Lisa Barnes)

Adopting an educational neuroscience approach in order to better understand the potential sensory and neural causes of developmental dyslexia, this new project aims to seek biomarkers for the early identification of children at risk, which would enable earlier remediation. Research will focus on understanding the mechanisms of atypical phonological development (the core feature of developmental dyslexia across different languages) at the neural, cognitive and sensory levels.


  • The seeds of literacy in infancy: empirical specification of the acoustic determinants of language acquisition (January 2011 – December 2015) - Australian Research Council - A$749,807


(Co-PI with Professor Denis Burnham, Director, MARCS Laboratory, University of Western Sydney - finance to Sydney)


  • Rhythmic Perception, Music and Language: A New Theoretical Framework for Understanding and Remediating Specific Language Impairment (Apr 2010- Dec 2012) - The Nuffield Foundation, £148K.

(Research Associate: Dr Ruth Cumming (project leader); Dr Anji Wilson)

This project will explore the role of music and rhythm perception in language processing for children with spoken language impairment (SLI).

  • Multimodal imaging of parietal brain networks in adults and children with developmental dyscalculia (Oct 2009- Sep 2012) - MRC, £1.1M

(with Dr Dénes Szücs (PI), Dr Tim Rowland, and Dr Rhodri Cusack (MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit), Research Associate: Dr Fruzsina Soltesz; Research Assistant: Amy Devine; EEG lab technician: Alison Nobes)



  • Dyslexia: A new theoretical framework: Rhythm perception, music and language (Oct 2009-Oct 2011) - Leverhulme Trust (£91K)
  • Auditory processing in dyslexic children: Behavioural and neural investigations (with Dénes Szücs co-PI; Research Associates: Dr Tim Fosker, Dr Martina Huss, Dr Odette Megnin; Research Assistant: Natasha Mead)

March 2005 - December 2010
Medical Research Council (£980k)

This longitudinal project followed the auditory processing, language and reading abilities of dyslexic children from the ages of 7 years and up. Brain measurements of auditory perception were taken each year, to explore the link between rhythm perception and literacy at the neural level.

  • Humans, The Analogy-Making Species
    (with co-PIs from 7 EU member states, as a STREP project; Research Assistants: Victoria Leong & Sonia White)

October 2006 - July 2009
EU Framework VI (£240K)

  • Linguistic Factors, Phonological & Orthographic Processing in Dyslexia (2000 - 2003)

Economic And Social Research Council
Researcher: Dr Ulla Richardson

This project aimed to provide important information required for a deeper understanding of the factors underlying the development of phonological awareness in dyslexic children and how these factors impact their reading and spelling development.

  • Phonological Representations in Dyslexic Children (2000 - 2003)

Child Health Research Appeal Trust
Researcher: Jenny Thomson (SLT)

This project examined the factors underlying the development of phonological awareness in dyslexic children, in particular those relating to vocabulary, naming and basic auditory processing.

  • Exploring the behavioural characteristics and cortical correlates of reading in good and poor congenitally profoundly deaf readers (2001 - 2004)

Wellcome Trust Training Fellowship
Researcher: Dr Mairead Macsweeney

This project aimed to increase understanding of how a small minority of deaf people become skilled readers. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) was used to explore the cortical networks underlying written language processing by good and poor deaf readers and native signers matched on non-linguistic cognitive ability and vocabulary knowledge, along with hearing controls.

  • Phonological Skills, Vocabulary Development and Reading Development in Deaf Children with Cochlear Implants (2001-2005)

PPP Healthcare Trust
Researcher: Carol Johnson

The aims of this project were to understand the factors determining reading development in deaf children with cochlear implants, in particular with respect to age at implantation and general language skills.

  • Co-Morbidity of Specific Language Impairment & Dyslexia (2003 - 2004)

The Gates Foundation
Researcher: Kathleen Corriveau

The project explored whether the accurate perception of rhythmic aspects of the auditory signal are impaired in children with specific language impairment (SLI), as they appear to be in dyslexic children, and whether such impairments can explain the co-morbidity of SLI and dyslexia.

  • Auditory Processing Skills, Phonological Awareness and Literacy Development in Monolingual and Bilingual Swedish Children (2003 - 2005)

EU Framework 6 Marie Curie Fellowship
(Intra-European Fellowship for Dr Louise Miller-Guron)

This project explored whether basic auditory processing abilities in children, specifically those concerned with tracking the rhythms of speech, can predict literacy development in Swedish. It also compares bilingual (Swedish-English) children with monolingual Swedish children.

  • Rhythmic Timing and Dyslexia: A Causal Connection? (June 2004 - September 2007)

Economic & Social Research Council
Researcher: Dr Jennifer Thomson

This project explored in greater depth why basic auditory processing abilities in children, specifically those concerned with tracking the rhythms of speech, are impaired in dyslexia.


Collaborators outside this directory

Key Publications

Huss M, Verney JP, Fosker T, Mead N & Goswami U (2011). Music, rhythm, rise time perception and developmental dyslexia: Perception of musical meter predicts reading and phonology. Cortex, 47, 674-89.

Beddington J, Cooper CL, Field J, Goswami U, Huppert FA, Jenkins R, Jones HS, Kirkwood TBL, Sahakian BJ & Thomas SM (2008). The mental wealth of nations. Nature 455: 1057-1060.

Goswami U (2006). Neuroscience and education: from research to practice? Nat Rev Neurosci 7(5):406-11 Details

Ziegler J & Goswami U (2005). Reading acquisition, developmental dyslexia, and skilled reading across languages: a psycholinguistic grain size theory, Psychological Bulletin, 131(1), 3-29.

see Publications for a full list of articles from 2000 onwards, or below for pre-2000

Pre-2000 publications:

Goswami U, Leevers H, Pressley S, Wheelwright S (1998). Causal reasoning about pairs of relations and analogical reasoning in young children. Brit J Dev Psychol, 16, 553-568.

Goswami U, Porpodas C, Wheelwright S (1997). Children's orthographic representations in English and Greek. Eur J Psychol Educ, 12, 3, 273-292.

Swan D, Goswami U (1997). Phonological awareness deficits in developmental dyslexia and the phonological representations hypothesis. J Exp Child Psychol, 66, 1, 18-41.

Swan D, Goswami U (1997). Picture naming deficits in developmental dyslexia: The phonological representations hypothesis. Brain Lang, 56, 3, 334-353.

Goswami U (1996). Analogical reasoning and cognitive development. Adv Child Dev Behav, 26, 91-138.

Goswami U (1995). Transitive relational mappings in 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds - the analogy of goldilocks-and-the-3-bears. Child Dev, 66, 3, 877-892.

Wimmer H, Goswami U (1994). The influence of orthographic consistency on reading development - word recognition in English and German children. Cognition, 51, 1, 91-103

Goswami U (1993). Toward an interactive analogy model of reading development - decoding vowel graphemes in beginning reading. J. Exp. Child Psychology, 56, 3, 443-475.

Goswami U (1993). Phonological skills and learning to read. Ann Ny Acad Sci, 682, 296-311.

Goswami U (1992). Phonological factors in spelling development – annotation. J Child Psychol Psyc, 33, 6, 967-975.

Goswami U (1992). Analogical reasoning and conceptual complexity in cognitive-development – commentary. Hum Dev35, 4, 222-225.

Goswami U, Mead F (1992). Onset and rime awareness and analogies in reading. Read Res Quart, 27, 2, 152-162 1992.

Goswami U (1991). Learning about spelling sequences - the role of onsets and rimes in analogies in reading. Child Dev62, 5, 1110-1123.

Goswami U (1991). Analogical reasoning - what develops - a review of research and theory. Child Dev, 62, 1, 1-22.

Goswami U (1990). Phonological priming and orthographic analogies in reading. J Exp Child Psychol, 49, 2, 323-340.

Goswami U  (1990). A special link between rhyming skill and the use of orthographic analogies by beginning readers. J Child Psychol Psyc, 31, 2, 301-311.

Goswami U, Brown AL (1990). Higher-order structure and relational reasoning: Contrasting analogical and thematic relations. Cognition, 36, 3, 207-226.

Other Publications


Goswami, U (2010). The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Childhood Cognitive Development: 2nd Edition. Blackwell Handbooks of Developmental Psychology.

Goswami, U (2008). Cognitive Development: The Learning Brain. Psychology Press, Taylor & Francis.

Goswami, U (2010). Phonology, reading and reading difficulty. In K. Hall, U. Goswami, C. Harrison, S. Ellis and J. Soler (Eds) Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Learning to Read: Culture, Cognition and Pedagogy. London: Routledge.

Cooper CL, Field J, Goswami U, Jenkins R, & Sahakian BJ (2009) (Eds.). Mental Capital and Wellbeing. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Goswami, U (2008). Cognitive Development: The Learning Brain. Psychology Press, Taylor & Francis.

Goswami, U (2006). Cognitive Development: Critical Concepts in Psychology. London: Routledge.

Goswami, U (2002 & 2004). Blackwell Handbook of Childhood Cognitive Development. Oxford: Blackwell.

Book Chapters


Goswami, U. (2003). Orthography, phonology and reading development: A cross-linguistic perspective. In M. Joshi (Ed.), Linguistic relativity of orthographic and phonological structures. Dordrecht, NL: Kluwer.

Goswami, U. (2003). Phonology, learning to read and dyslexia: A cross-linguistic analysis. In V. Csepe (Ed.),Dyslexia: Different Brain, Different Behaviour, pp. 1-40. NL: Kluwer Academic.

Goswami, U. (2002). Inductive and Deductive Reasoning. In U. Goswami (Ed.), Blackwell's Handbook of Childhood Cognitive Development, pp. 282-302. Oxford: Blackwells.

Goswami, U. (2002). Rhymes, phonemes and learning to read: Interpreting recent research. In M. Cook (Ed.)Perspectives on the Teaching and Learning of Phonics, pp. 41-60. Royston, UK: United Kingdom Reading Association.

Goswami, U. (2002). Developmental Dyslexia in English. In I. Smythe, J. Everatt and R. Salter,International Book of Dyslexia, 2nd Edition. London: Wiley.

Goswami, U. (2002). Cognitive Development. In J.J. Ponzetti (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family Relationships, 2nd Edition. New York: Macmillan Reference USA.

Goswami, U. (2001). Developmental Dyslexia. In N.J. Smelser, and P.B. Baltes, (Eds) International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioural Science: Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience, pp. 3918-3921. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science.

Goswami, U. (2001). Analogical reasoning in children. In Gentner, D., Holyoak, K. J., and Kokinov, B. N. (Eds.)The analogical mind: Perspectives from cognitive science, pp. 437-470. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Goswami, U. (2001). The 'phonological representations' hypothesis in dyslexia. In G. Schulte-Koerner (Ed.),Legasthenie: erkennen, verstehen, foerdern, pp. 67-74. Bochum: Winkler.

Goswami, U. (2001). Early phonological development and the acquisition of literacy. In S. Neuman and D. Dickinson (Eds), Handbook of Research in Early Literacy for the 21st Century, pp. 111-125. New York: The Guilford Press.

Goswami, U., and De Cara, B. (2000). Lexical representations and development: The emergence of rime processing. In Cutler, A., McQueen, J., and Zondervan, R. (Eds.), Proceedings of the Workshop on Spoken Word Access Processes, Max-Planck Institute of Psycholinguistics, pp. 99-102.

Goswami, U. (2000). Phonological and Lexical Processes. In Barr, R., Kamil, M., Mosenthal, P., and Pearson, D. (2000) Handbook of Reading Research, Volume 3, pp. 251-268.