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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 accepting applications for 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

  • 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
  • Academy of Social Sciences
  • British Academy


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, rhythm and analogy in reading acquisition, and rhyme and rhythm 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 and acoustic statistics, investigating the impact of 'neighbourhood relations' (similarity relations such as rhyme) in phonological and orthographic processing in different languages, and the impact of the amplitude modulation structure of the speech signal on phonological and morphological development.

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 Research Fellowships from the National Academy of Education (USA), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany), and the Leverhulme Trust. In 2013 she was elected Fellow of the British Academy. She has advised on the National Curriculum and the National Literacy Project, was one of the five scientific leaders of the Foresight Project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing (2008), 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 has been a member of the ESRC Research Grants Board (1998-2000), a member of the Neurosciences and Mental Health Board of the Medical Research Council (1999-2003), and of the Cross Board Group of the Medical Research Council (2001-2003). She is a Fast Track Editor for Developmental Science, and is/has been on the editorial advisory boards of Reading and Writing, Reading Research Quarterly, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Cognitive Development, Mind Brain and Education, Annals of Dyslexia, Trends in Neuroscience in Education, Psychological Bulletin, Perspectives in Child Development. From 2001-2005 she was Editor of Applied Psycholinguistics.

Research Interests

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



  • BOTNAR PROJECT: Developing Prototype Assistive Listening Technology for Remediating Developmental Dyslexia (Sept 2017-Aug 2023) - Botnar Foundation, £1.7M

  • BABYRHYTHM PROJECT:  Oscillatory Rhythmic Entrainment and the Foundations of Language Acquisition - ERC Advanced Grant (Sep 2016-Aug 2021) - ERC Advanced Grant, €2.6M

  • Neurocognitive Factors Governing Response to Intervention with Graphogame Rime (Sep 2015-Aug 2018) - EEF/Wellcome Trust Neuroscience in Education, £372k



  • Developmental Dyslexia: An Educational Neuroscience Approach
    Jan 2011-June 2016: MRC, £1.5M
    (with Dr Matt Davis and Dr Denes Szucs, co-Is;  Research Associates: Dr Alan Power, Dr Victoria Leong; Research Assistants: Natasha Mead, Dr Anji Wilson, Lisa Barnes, Hannah Noble)
    Adopting an educational neuroscience approach in order to better understand the potential sensory and neural causes of developmental dyslexia. Research focused on understanding the mechanisms of atypical phonological development (the core feature of developmental dyslexia across different languages) at the neural, cognitive and sensory levels, by studying neural entrainment to speech and non-speech rhythm in children with dyslexia using EEG, MEG and fNIRS.

  • 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 Professor Denis Burnham, Director, MARCS Laboratory, University of Western Sydney - finance to Sydney). By recruiting a cohort of infants at family risk for dyslexia, this project aimed to identify core acoustic mechanisms underpinning atypical language development.

  • Rhythmic Perception, Music and Language: A New Theoretical Framework for Understanding and Remediating Specific Language Impairment
    April 2010-September 2014: The Nuffield Foundation, £148K.
    (Research Associate: Dr Ruth Cumming; Research Assistant: Dr Anji Wilson). This project explored 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
    October 2009- September 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). Adopting an educational neuroscience approach to better understand cognitive and neural causes of mathematical impairment in children.
  • 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. Brain measurements of auditory perception were taken each year, to explore the link between rhythm perception and literacy at the neural level, using EEG.
  • Humans, The Analogy-Making Species
    October 2006-July 2009:  EU Framework VI, £240k
    (with co-PIs from 7 EU member states, as a STREP project; Research Assistants: Fruzsina Soltesz, Victoria Leong & Sonia White). This project measured the core role of relational structure mapping for children's cognitive and linguistic development.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Phonological Skills, Vocabulary Development and Reading Development in Deaf Children with Cochlear Implants
    2001-2005: PPP Healthcare Trust
    (Researcher: Carol Johnson, Jane Thomas)
    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.
  • 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.
  • Linguistic Factors, Phonological & Orthographic Processing in Dyslexia
    2000-2003: ESRC 
    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 Childre
    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 of amplitude rise time.


    • Susan Richards: Language and musical awareness: Sensitivity to Rhythm and Developmental Language Disorder in Children
      October 2007 – November 2017 (part-time).

    • Kate Prentice: Poetry aloud: The effect of poetic sound on children’s learning
      October 2009 –  December 2013, (Clinical Psychology, IoP, London 2014.)

    • John P Verney:  Rhythmic perception and entrainment in 5-year-old children.
      October 2006 – July 2013.

    • Victoria Leong: Prosodic rhythm in the speech amplitude envelope: Amplitude modulation phase hierarchies (AMPHs) and AMPH models
      October 2007 – May 2013. (JRF Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, 2014.)

    • Hsiao-Lan Wang:  Developmental dyslexia, phonological skills, and basic auditory processing in Chinese.
      October 2007 – March 2011. (Assistant Professor, Department of Special Education National Taiwan Normal University, 2014)

    • Jennifer Green:  Synaesthesia and number cognition in children.
      October 2006   (part-time).

    • Sarah Killing:  Basic and processing skills and phonological awareness in low IQ good and poor readers and typically developing controls.
      October 2006 – May 2010.  (University Lecturer, Anglia Ruskin University.)

    • Paula Guardia Gutierrez:  The effect of linguistic, phonetic and lexical factors on phological skills and reading acquisition in Spanish.
      January 2006 – Jan 2010. (Lecturer, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.)

    • Jennifer Thomson:  Phonological representations in dyslexia:
      October 2000 – September 2004 (included year as Marie Curie fellow in Finland; an Assistant then Associate Professor, Harvard University, now Senior Lecturer, University of Sheffield).

    • Deborah James: Phonological Development and Literacy in Deaf Children with and without Cochlear Implants.
      October 1999 – December 2002. (Research Group Leader, Institute for Hearing Research, University of Nottingham).

    • Abram Sterne: Reading, Memory and Phonological Awareness in Deaf Children.
      April 1993 - February 1997.

    •  Alex Cutting: Reasoning, Problem Solving and the Appearance-Reality Distinction.
      January 1992 - April 1995.

    • Denise Swan: The Relationship between picture naming and phonological awareness deficits in developmental dyslexia.
      September 1991 - December 1994.

    Key Publications

    *NB: For copies of publications not available via the CNE website, email <>.

    Goswami, U. (2015). Sensory theories of developmental dyslexia: Three challenges for research. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 16, 43-54. (17)

    Goswami, U. (2011). A temporal sampling framework for developmental dyslexia. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 15, 3-10. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2010.10.001

    Goswami U, Huss M, Mead N, Fosker T & Verney JP (2013). Perception of patterns of musical beat distribution in phonological developmental dyslexia: significant longitudinal relations with word reading and reading comprehension. Cortex, 49, 5, 1363-76.

    Power AJ, Mead N, Barnes L & Goswami U (2013) Neural entrainment to rhythmic speech in children with developmental dyslexia. Front Hum Neurosci, 7, 777.

    Goswami U, Wang HL, Cruz A, Fosker T, Mead N & Huss M (2011). Language-universal sensory deficits in developmental dyslexia: English, Spanish and Chinese. J Cogn Neurosci 23, 2, 325-37.

    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.


    For a full list go to Publications* for 2002 onwards, or see below for all pre-2002 articles

    Articles, pre-2002

    Goswami, U. (2001). Cognitive development: No stages please, we’re British. British Journal of Psychology, 92, 257-277.

    Goswami, U., Ziegler, J., Dalton, L., & Schneider, W. (2001). Pseudohomophone effects and phonological recoding procedures in reading development in English and German. Journal of Memory & Language, 45, 648-664.

    Singer-Freeman, K., & Goswami, U. (2001). Does half a pizza equal half a box of chocolates? Proportional matching in an analogy paradigm. Cognitive Development, 16, 811-829.

    Goswami, U. (2000). Phonological representations, reading development and dyslexia: Towards a cross-linguistic theoretical framework. Dyslexia, 6, 133-151.

    Goswami, U. (2000). The potential of a neuro-constructivist framework for developmental dyslexia: The abnormal development of phonological representations? Developmental Science, 3 (1), 27-29.

    Goswami, U., & East, M. (2000). Rhyme and analogy in beginning reading: Conceptual and methodological issues. Applied Psycholinguistics, 21, 63-93.

    Sterne, A., & Goswami, U. (2000). Phonological awareness of syllables, rhymes and phonemes in deaf children. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 41 (5), 609-625.

    Goswami, U. (1999). Causal Connections in Beginning Reading: The Importance of Rhyme. Journal of Research in Reading, 22, 217-240.

    Goswami, U. (1999). Orthographic analogies and phonological priming: A comment on Bowey, Vaughan and Hansen (1998). Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 72, 210-219.

    Goswami, U. (1999). Speech coding and dyslexia: The phonological representations hypothesis. Dyslexia Review, 11 (2), 4-7.

    Goswami, U., Schneider, W., & Scheurich, B., (1999). Picture naming deficits in developmental dyslexia in German. Developmental Science, 2, 53-58.

    Goswami, U. (1998). Is relational complexity a useful metric for cognitive development? Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 21 (6), 838-839.

    Goswami, U., Gombert, J., & De Barrera, F. (1998). Children's Orthographic Representations and Linguistic Transparency: Nonsense Word Reading in English, French and Spanish. Applied Psycholinguistics, 19, 19-52.

    Goswami, U., Leevers, H., Pressley, S. and Wheelwright, S. (1998). Causal reasoning about pairs of relations and analogical reasoning in young children. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 16, 553-569.

    Goswami U, Porpodas C, Wheelwright S (1997). Children's orthographic representations in English and Greek.  European Journal of Psychology of Education, 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.

    Treiman, R., Goswami, U., Tincoff, R., & Leevers, H. (1997). Effects of dialect on American and British children's spelling. Child Development, 68, 229-245.

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

    Goswami, U. (1996). Rhyme and Analogy. Child Education, 73 (5), 28-29.

    Goswami, U. (1996). Rhyme and Reading. Child Education, 73 (4), 16-17.

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

    Goswami, U. (1995). Phonological Development and Reading by Analogy: What is Analogy, and What is it Not? Journal of Research in Reading, 18, 139-145.

    Goswami, U. (1994). How do children learn to read? Science and Public Affairs (The quarterly magazine of the Royal Society), Summer 1994.

    Goswami, U. (1994). Phonological Skills, Analogies and Reading Development. Reading, 28 (2), 32-37.

    Goswami, U. (1994). The Role of Analogies in Reading Development. Support for Learning, 9 (1), 22-26.

    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). Phonological skills and learning to read. Ann NY Acad Sci, 682, 296-311.

    Goswami, U. (1993). Orthographic analogies and reading development. The Psychologist: Bulletin of the British Psychological Society, 6, 312-316.

    Goswami, U. (1993). Towards an interactive analogy model of reading development: Decoding vowel graphemes in beginning reading. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 56, 443-475.

    Goswami U (1992). Analogical reasoning and conceptual complexity in cognitive-development – commentary. Human Development,  35, 4, 222-225.

    Goswami, U. (1992). Phonological factors in spelling development. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 33, 967-975.

    Goswami, U. (1992). Representational capacity or analogical ability? What develops in Halford's structure-mapping theory of cognitive development. Human Development, 35, 222-225.

    Goswami, U. and Mead, F. (1992). Onset and rime awareness and analogies in reading. Reading Research Quarterly, 27 (2), 152-162.

    Goswami U (1991). Learning about spelling sequences - the role of onsets and rimes in analogies in reading. Child Development,  62, 5, 1110-1123.

    Goswami, U. (1991). Analogical Reasoning: What develops? A review of research and theory. Child Development, 62, 1-22.

    Bryant, P.E. and Goswami, U. (1990). Comparisons between backward and normal readers: A risky business. Open Dialogue - Backward and Normal Readers: Peer Review. BPS Education Section Review, 14 (2), 3-10.

    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.

    Treiman, R., Goswami, U. and Bruck, M. (1990). Not all nonwords are alike: Implications for reading development and theory. Memory and Cognition, 18, 559-567.

    Goswami, U. (1989). Relational complexity and the development of analogical reasoning. Cognitive Development, 4, 251-268.

    Goswami, U. and Brown, A. (1989). Melting chocolate and melting snowmen: Analogical reasoning and causal relations. Cognition, 35, 69-95.

    Goswami, U. and Bryant, P.E. (1989). The interpretation of studies using the reading level design. Journal of Reading Behaviour, 21 (4), 413-424.

    Goswami, U. (1988). Children's use of analogy in learning to spell. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 6, 21-33.

    Goswami, U. (1988). Orthographic analogies and reading development. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 40A, 239-268.

    Bryant, P.E. and Goswami. U. (1987). Beyond grapheme-phoneme correspondence. Cahiers de Psychologie Cognitive, 7, 439-443.

    Bryant, P.E. and Goswami, U. (1986). The strengths and weaknesses of the reading level design. Psychological Bulletin, 100, 101-103.

    Goswami, U. (1986). Children's use of analogy in learning to read: A developmental study. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 42, 73-83.


    Other Publications


    Goswami, U (2014). Child Psychology: A very short introduction. Oxford University Press.

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

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

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

    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, pre-2002

    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.