School of Psychology

Language and Communication

Our research focuses on a number of different areas of language and communication. Our studies of language comprehension look at comprehension problems in children who are fluent (word) readers. In young adult readers we look at anaphor interpretation and inference, including inferences based on gender stereotypes. Our overall theoretical framework for the research is mental models theory.
Another area of research is cognitive development and language acquisition in children under five-years-old, with particular emphasis on experimental and computational studies of infant and toddler categorisation.
Below you can see more about our research:


Reference in text comprehension

  • When a person or thing is referred to several times in a discourse or text, why are different referring expressions used and what makes different expressions more or less difficult to understand?
  • What other factors contribute to the tracking of reference and coreference in text?
People: Alan Garnham

Inferences based on gender stereotypes

  • What are the ERP signatures associated with gender stereotype violations? How do those differ from the signatures associated with violations of definitional gender?
  • What can be done to reduce gender stereotyping in the representation of text?
  • How do gender stereotypes emerge developmentally?
People: Alan Garnham, Jane Oakhill

Human Psychophysiology Lab

Children's reading comprehension: development and difficulties

  • What characterises poor comprehenders?
  • Which particular language and cognitive skills are causally implicated in comprehension development?
  • What can be done to support and improve reading comprehension in children?

People:  Jane Oakhill

REF2014 Impact case study: Improving the teaching of reading comprehension

Reading comprehension in children with hearing impairments (HI), and children with visual impairments (VI)

  • What aspects of reading comprehension do HI and VI children struggle with the most (e.g., vocabulary, inference skills, comprehension monitoring)?
  • What can be done to support and improve reading comprehension in HI and VI children?
  • Can reading intervention strategies, designed for use with normally developing children, be successfully adapted for use with HI and VI children?

People: Susan Sullivan