skip to content

Centre for Neuroscience in Education

Understanding Maths Anxiety

This project was sponsored by the Nuffield Foundation and ran between 2013 and 2019. The principle investigators for this research were Dr. Dénes Szűcs, Dr. Ros McLellan (Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge) and Dr. Ann Dowker (Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford).

While cognitive difficulties can make learning mathematics challenging, some of those who struggle do so due to mathematics anxiety. This research project studied then the debilitating emotional reaction some have in response to mathematics; a topic which has become increasingly recognised in psychology and education in recent years. The anxiety can range from feelings of mild tension to a strong fear of mathematics, and, due to not being limited to test or classroom settings, can continue to affect people throughout their lives. This study then sought to provide an in-depth understanding of the emotional roots of mathematics anxiety in primary and secondary school children, with the aim of raising awareness of the issue. 

The executive summary of the project can be accessed here.

Educational Neuroscience and Developmental Dyslexia

Developmental Dyslexia: An Educational Neuroscience Approach

This was a project sponsored by the Medical Research Council (MRC) between 2011 and 2016, which established the foundations for the assistive listening technology project now funded by the Botnar Fondation. Professor Usha Goswami (PI) worked with Dr. Dénes Szűcs, Dr. Ian Winter (Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge) and Dr. Matt Davis (MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge).

Developmental dyslexia (DD) affects around 7% of school children and presents a major obstacle to educational success. Using an educational neuroscience approach, this project sought to better understand the potential sensory and neural causes of DD, using behavioural, physiological and neuroimaging approaches.


Example Publications

Cutini, S., Szűcs, D., Mead, N., Huss, M., & Goswami, U. (2016). Atypical right hemisphere response to slow temporal modulations in children with developmental dyslexia. Neuroimage, 143, 40-49.

Power, A.J., Colling, L.C., Mead, N., Barnes, L., & Goswami, U. (2016). Neural encoding of the speech envelope by children with developmental dyslexia. Brain & Language, 160, 1-10.

Goswami, U., Huss, M., Mead, N., Fosker, T., & Verney, J. (2013). Perception of Patterns of Musical Beat Distribution in Phonological Developmental Dyslexia: Significant Longitudinal Relations with Word Reading and Reading Comprehension. Cortex, 49 (5), 1363-1376.

Literacy in Infancy

The Seeds of Literacy in Infancy: Empirical Specification of the Acoustic Determinants of Language Acquisition

This project was sponsored by the Australian Research Council (ARC) and ran from 2011 to 2015. Its two Co-Principle Investigators were Professor Usha Goswami and Professor Denis Burnham (Speech and Language, Western Sydney University).

Rhythmic Perception, Music and Language in Children with SLI

Rhythmic Perception, Music and Language: A New Theoretical Framework for Understanding and Remediating Specific Language Impairment

This project was sponsored by the Nuffield Foundation and ran between 2010 and 2015. The principle investigator for this project was Professor Usha Goswami with postdoctoral researchers Dr. Ruth Cumming and Dr Anji Wilson.

The project studied the role of music and rhythm perception in the language processing of DLD children, who have very marked difficulties in processing spoken language. This Nuffield project laid the foundations for the current Yidan Project.

The briefing report for the project be accessed here.


Example Publications

Cumming, R., Wilson, A., Leong V., Colling, L. J., & Goswami, U. (2015). Awareness of rhythm patterns in speech and music in children with specific language impairments. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9, 672.

Cumming, R., Wilson, A., & Goswami, U. (2015). Basic auditory processing and sensitivity to prosodic structure in children with specific language impairments: A new look at a perceptual hypothesis. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 972.

The Influence of Language on Numerical and Arithmetic Development

The project was conducted in collaboration with the Université Libre de Bruxelles between 2012 and 2014, and was sponsored by the Wiener-Anspach Foundation. It was conducted by Dr. Dénes Szűcs and Florence Gabriel.

The primary goals of this research were to improve understanding of core numerical and arithmetic abilities, and subsequently develop pedagogical interventions for children with learning difficulties. It therefore focused on both neurotypical children and children with specific language impairments (SLI) who face mathematical difficulties.

The acquisition of basic mathematical competencies, such as the capacity to add or subtract, is a fundamental step in the school curriculum. Studies conducted on typically developing children have demonstrated the implication of language during calculation. Since language-based representations are involved in the acquisition and storage of arithmetic facts, language delays would be likely to cause difficulties in learning arithmetic. Indeed, in children with SLI (e.g. children with poor language skills in the absence of mental retardation, hearing impairment, or neurological damage), mathematical deficits often co-occur with the language problem. The determination of the cognitive and linguistic factors that underlie their problems in calculation was nonetheless tentative.

Multimodal Imaging of Developmental Dyscalculia

Multimodal Imaging of Parietal Brain Networks in Adults and Children with Developmental Dyscalculia

This project was sponsored by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and ran between 2009 and 2012. The principle investigator for this project was Dr. Dénes Szűcs, with Professor Usha Goswami as the co-principle investigator. 

Dyslexia: A New Theoretical Framework

Dyslexia: A New Theoretical Framework: Rhythm Perception, Music & Language

This was a Research Fellowship project Professor Usha Goswami was sponsored to do by the Leverhulme Trust. It ran between 2009 and 2011.

GraphoGame Rime Projects

The first project was funded by the European Commission Marie Curie Excellence Grants (PI Professor Heikki Lyytinen) between 2008 and 2011.  Professor Usha Goswami developed a script for an English version of the Finnish game, based on her rhyme analogy research. Postdoctoral researcher Dr. Fiona Kyle developed a testing protocol to compare efficacy to a phoneme-based English version of the Finnish game. Subsequently, Dr. Kyle gained a British Academy grant (2011 to 2014) with Professor Goswami as mentor, to test the efficacy of GraphoGame Rime further. Most recently, the Education Endowment Foundation and the Wellcome Trust provided funding to Professor Goswami to run an RCT to test the efficacy of the game, between 2015 and 2018. The trial ran in 15 schools and involved 400 children. It established that playing GraphoGame Rime on a computer during literacy hour was as effective for Year 2 children who had failed the UK Government “Phonics Check” as receiving direct extra teaching.

The original Graphogame was developed in Finland and arose from the European Concerted Action on Learning Disorders as a Barrier to Human Development, COST A8; which ran from 1995 to 2000 with Professor Goswami as the scientist representing England. The game was originally devised to assist Finnish children at familial risk for dyslexia by Professor Heikki Lyytinen. The aim of the English game is to help children learn to read by teaching important letter-sound correspondences via rhyme families.


Example Publications

Ahmed, H., Wilson, A., Mead, N., Noble, H., Richardson, U., Wolpert, M. A., & Goswami, U. (2020). An Evaluation of the Efficacy of GraphoGame Rime for Promoting English Phonics Knowledge in Poor Readers. Frontiers in Education5, 132.

Bhide, A., Power, A., & Goswami, U. (2013). A Rhythmic Musical Intervention for Poor Readers: A Comparison of Efficacy with a Letter-Based Intervention. Mind, Brain, and Education, 7(2), 113-123.

Kyle, F., Kujala, J., Richardson, U., Lyytinen, H., & Goswami, U. (2013). Assessing the Effectiveness of Two Theoretically Motivated Computer-Assisted Reading Interventions in the United Kingdom: GG Rime and GG Phoneme. Reading Research Quarterly, 48, 61-76.


Further Information

Auditory Processing in Dyslexic Children

Auditory Processing in Dyslexic Children: Behavioural and Neural Investigations

This project was sponsored by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and ran between 2005 and 2011. The principle investigator for this project was Professor Usha Goswami, with Dr. Dénes Szűcs as the co-principle investigator. 

Humans, The Analogy-Making Species

This was a project sponsored by the European Research Council (ERC) which had seven principle investigators from seven European Union membership states, with Professor Usha Goswami representing the UK. Ihe project was headed by Professor Boicho Kokinov (Cognitive Science, New Bulgarian University), and ran between 2006 and 2010.

Rhythmic Timing and Dyslexia: A Causal Connection?

This project was sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and ran between 2004 and 2007. Professor Usha Goswami was the principle investigator.

Language and Literacy Development in Deaf Children with Cochlear Implants

Phonological Skills, Vocabulary Development and Reading Development in Deaf Children with Cochlear Implants

This project was sponsored by the PPP Healthcare Trust and ran from 2001 to 2006. The principle investigator for this project was Professor Usha Goswami, who collaborated with the cochlear implant team at Great Ormond Street Hospital, which was where the project was also based.

Literacy Development in Deaf Children

This was a twelve month Postdoctoral Fellowship project awarded to Dr. Fiona Kyle by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Professor Usha Goswami was the supervisor for the project, which began and ended in 2005.

Language Development in Monolingual and Bilingual Swedish Children

Auditory Processing Skills, Phonological Awareness and Literacy Development in Monolingual and Bilingual Swedish Children

This was a Research Fellowship awarded to Dr. Louise Miller-Guron by Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, which is part of the European Commission. Professor Usha Goswami was the supervisor for the project, which ran between 2003 and 2005.