Susan Gathercole is a cognitive psychologist with interests in memory and learning in children and adults.
Much of her research has focused on working memory and the roles that its disorders play in complex aspects of cognitive function such as language and school-based learning. This work combines studies of the basic mechanisms of memory and learning with interventions that target working memory and the consequences of its failures in the classroom.
Susan’s group investigates the potential benefits and cognitive mechanisms of intensive working memory training. One of the recent developments with colleagues is a new theory that working memory training involves learning new cognitive skills. New findings indicate that conventional methods of assessing transfer may greatly underestimate the adaptability of these skills to untrained activities.
Current research is employing online training to test the mechanisms that govern training and transfer within executive functions. Plans are also in place to use their new principles to design novel interventions to benefit everyday cognitive function in children and adults.
As Director of the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Susan established in 2014 a new developmental research facility, the Centre for Attention, Learning and Memory (CALM). This hosts a research clinic for children with problems in attention, learning, and memory.
Over 800 children have attended the clinic. It is the first large-scale study of cognition, behaviour, brain, and genes involving children who are struggling in school for many reasons, including ADHD. The study provides a unique transdiagnostic window on the causes and correlates of compromised neurodevelopmental function. Its rich dataset provides many opportunities for new projects within CALM.
Image credit: @element5digital
Holmes, J., Woolgar, F., Hampshire, A., Gathercole, S. E. (2019). Are working memory training effects paradigm-specific? Frontiers in Psychology., doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01103
Norris, D. G., Hall, J., Gathercole, S. E. (2019). Can verbal short-term memory be trained? Memory & Cognition. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-019-00901-z
Holmes, J., Bryant, A., CALM Team, Gathercole, S. E. (2019). A transdiagnostic study of children with problems in attention, learning and memory (CALM). BMC Pediatrics, 19, 10. doi: 10.1186/s12887-018-1385-3
Norris, D. G., Hall, J., Gathercole, S. E. (2019). How do we perform backward serial recall? Memory & Cognition. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-018-0889-2
Gathercole, S. E., Dunning, D., Holmes, J., & Norris, D. G. (2019). Working memory training involves learning new skills. Journal of Memory and Language, 105, 19-42. doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2018.10.003
Green, C. S., Bavelier, D., Kramer, A. F., Vinogradov, S., Ansorge, U., Ball, K. K., … & Facoetti, A. (2018). Improving methodological standards in behavioral interventions for cognitive enhancement. Journal of Cognitive Enhancement, 1-28.
Anderson, P., Lee, K.J., Roberts, G., Spencer-Smith, M., Thompson, D., … Gathercole, S. E…. Pascoe, L. (2018). Long-term academic functioning following Cogmed Working Memory Training for children born extremely preterm: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Pediatrics, 202, 92-97.
Gathercole, S. E., Dunning, D., Holmes, J., & Norris, D. G. (2018). Feature coding dataset for trained and untrained working memory tasks in randomized controlled trials of working memory training. Data in Brief. doi.org/10. 1016/ j. dib. 2018. 11. 040.
Holmes, J., Woolgar, F., Hampshire, A., & Gathercole, S. E. (2018). Are working memory training effects paradigm-specific?. bioRxiv, 450023.
Gathercole, S. E., Astle, D. A., Manly, T., Holmes, J., & CALM Team. (2018.) Cognition and behaviour in learning difficulties and ADHD: A dimensional approach. BioRxiv, 260265.
Bathelt, J., Gathercole, S. E., Butterfield, S., CALM team, & Astle, D. E. (2018). Children’s academic attainment is linked to the global organization of the white matter connectome. Developmental Science, e12662.
Jaroslawska, A. J., Gathercole, S. E., & Holmes, J. (2018). Following instructions in a dual-task paradigm: Evidence for a temporary motor store in working memory. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1747021817743492.
Bathelt, J., Gathercole, S. E., Johnson, A., & Astle, D. E. (2017). Differences in brain morphology and working memory capacity across childhood. Developmental Science.
Nicolaou, E., Quach, J., Lum, J., Roberts, G., Spencer‐Smith, M., Gathercole, S., … & Wake, M. (2017). Changes in verbal and visuospatial working memory from Grade 1 to Grade 3 of primary school: Population longitudinal study. Child: care, health and development.
Simons, D. J., Boot, W. R., Charness, N., Gathercole, S. E., Chabris, C. F., Hambrick, D. Z., & Stine-Morrow, E. A. (2016). Do “Brain-Training” Programs Work?. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 17(3), 103-186.
Hawkins, E., Gathercole, S., Astle, D., Holmes, J., & CALM Team. (2016). Language problems and ADHD symptoms: How specific are the links? Brain Sciences, 6(4), 50.
Holmes, J., Byrne, E. M., Gathercole, S. E., & Ewbank, M. P. (2016). Transcranial random noise stimulation does not enhance the effects of working memory training. Journal of cognitive neuroscience, 28(10), 1471-1483.
Gathercole, S. E., Woolgar, F., Kievit, R. A., Astle, D., Manly, T., Holmes, J., & CALM Team. (2016). How common are WM deficits in children with difficulties in reading and mathematics? Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition.
Yang, T. X., Allen, R. J., & Gathercole, S. E. (2016). Examining the role of working memory resources in following spoken instructions. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 28(2), 186-198.
Roberts, G., Quach, J., Spencer-Smith, M., Anderson, P. J., Gathercole, S., Gold, L., … & Wake, M. (2016). Academic outcomes 2 years after working memory training for children with low working memory: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA pediatrics, 170(5), e154568-e154568.
Jaroslawska, A. J., Gathercole, S. E., Allen, R. J., & Holmes, J. (2016). Following instructions from working memory: Why does action at encoding and recall help? Memory & Cognition, 44(8), 1183-1191.
Jaroslawska, A. J., Gathercole, S. E., Logie, M. R., & Holmes, J. (2016). Following instructions in a virtual school: Does working memory play a role?. Memory & Cognition, 44(4), 580-589.
Roberts G, Quach J, Mensah F, Gathercole SE, Gold L, Anderson P et al. (2015). Schooling duration rather than chronological age predicts working memory between 6 and 7 years: the Memory Maestros study. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 36, 68-74. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000121
Holmes J, Butterfield S, Cormack F, van Loenhoud A, Ruggero L, Kashikar L, Gathercole SE (2015). Improving working memory in children with low language abilities. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 519. Doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00519
Holmes J, Hilton K, Place M, Alloway TP, Elliott J, Gathercole SE (2014). Children with low working memory and children with ADHD: same or different? Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8, 976 doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00976
Wang S, Gathercole SE (2015). Interference control in children with reading difficulties. Child Neuropsychology, 21, 418-431. doi: 10.1080/09297049.2014.918594
Arina, S., Gathercole, S., & Stella, G. (2015). The role of the Working Memory in the early phases of learning to read. BPA-Applied Psychology Bulletin (Bollettino di Psicologia Applicata), 63(273)
Gathercole SE, Holmes J (2014). Developmental impairments of working memory: profiles and interventions. Perspectives on Language and Literacy, Spring 2013, 36-39.
Gathercole, S.E. (2014). Working memory training and ADHD – where does its potential lie? Reflections on Chacko et al. (2014). Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 55, 256-7. doi 10.1111/jcpp.12196.
Yang, T., Gathercole, S.E, Allen, R.J. (2014). Benefit of enactment over oral repetition of verbal instruction does not require additional working memory during encoding. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 21, 186-92.
Ghani, K. A., & Gathercole, S. E. (2013). Working memory and study skills: a comparison between dyslexic and non-dyslexic adult learners. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 97, 271-277.
Holmes J, Gathercole SE (2013). Taking working memory training from the laboratory into schools. Educational Psychology, 34, 440-450.
Pascoe L, Roberts G, Doyle LW, Lee KJ, Thompson DK, Seal ML et al. (2013). Preventing academic difficulties in preterm children: a randomized controlled trial of an adaptive working memory training intervention – IMPRINT study. BMC Pediatrics, 13: 144, doi www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2431/144.
Dunning D, Holmes J, Gathercole SE. (2013). Does working memory training lead to generalised improvements in children with low working memory? A randomised controlled trial. Developmental Science, 16, 915-925.
Wang, S. & Gathercole, S.E. (2013). Working memory deficits in children with reading difficulties: Memory span and dual task coordination. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 115, 188-197. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2012.11.015.
Warmington M, Hitch GJ, Gathercole SE. (2012). Improving word learning in children using an errorless technique. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 114, http://10.1016/j.jecp.2012.10.007
Gathercole SE, Dunning D, Holmes J (2012). Cogmed training: Let’s be realistic about intervention research. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 1, 201-203 doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jarmac.2012.07.007