Janet Vousden


Dept. of Psychology, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL.
Tel: Messages (02476) 523096
Direct Line/Voicemail (02476) 888063
Email J.I.Vousden@warwick.ac.uk

Main Research Interests

My main area of interest is in the area of reading acquisition and how the structure of the (English) language affects how and what is acquired.

I have recently completed an ESRC-funded project (with Nick Chater and Michelle Ellefson), applying the Simplicity Principle to reading. We are interested in how the cognitive system represents the translation from spelling to sound. Assuming the cognitive system acts according to the simplicity principle (choose the solution that provides the shortest representation of the data), we aim to explore which (among many possibilities) spelling-to-sound mappings the cognitive system should prefer to encode to read English text, and how this compares to current practice in schools.

Previously, I conducted a rational analysis of reading material within an Education project with Jonathan Solity, Nick Chater, and Gordon Brown. One theme of this project was concerned with exploring how the frequency of different spelling-to-sound mappings impacted potential reading outcome. We also compared reading scheme and non reading scheme material to see whether one type of material provided better opportunities to practice key phonic skills.

I have also worked on projects with Gordon Brown modelling short-term memory for serial order in adults, children and elderly adults (Elizabeth Maylor), and with Teresa McCormack examining the relationship between timing and memory in humans. Here our aim was to explore the extent to which performance in short-term memory for serial order can be predicted from performance on temporal processing tasks, and also whether a temporal-distinctiveness model can account for data from both domains.

Other areas of interest include: the effects of contextual diversity on learned material (with James Adelman, Laura Shapiro , and Matthew Roberts) and scale invariance in memory for serial order (with Laura Shapiro and Gordon Brown). I am also interested in phonological speech errors and their implications for models of serial order in speech production.


Vousden, J.I., Ellefson, M.R., Solity, J.E., & Chater, N. (in press). Simplifying Reading: Applying the Simplicity Principle to Reading. Cognitive Science, 0, 000-000.

Solity, J.E., McNab, E., & Vousden, J.I. (2010). Is there an optimal level of sight vocabulary to teach beginning readers? A development of Stuart et al.'s (2003) Word Frequency List. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Solity, J.E., & Vousden, J.I. (2009). Real Books vs. Reading Schemes: A new perspective from instructional psychology. Educational Psychology, 29, 469-511.

Brown, G.D.A., Vousden, J.I., & McCormack, T. (2009). Memory retrieval as temporal discrimination. Journal of Memory and Language, 60, 194-208.

Vousden, J.I. (2008). Units of English spelling-to-sound mapping: A rational approach to reading instruction. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 22, 247-272.

Brown, G.D.A., Della Sala, S., Foster, J.K., & Vousden, J.I. (2007). Classical amnesia within a unitary model of memory. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 14, 256-260.

Vousden, J.I., & Maylor, E.A. (2006). Speech errors across the lifespan. Language and Cognitive Processes, 21, 48-77.

Elvevag, B., Brown, G.D.A., McCormack, T., Vousden, J.I., & Goldberg, T.E. (2004). Identification of tone duration, line length and letter position: An experimental approach to timing and working memory deficits in schizophrenia. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 113, 509-521.

Vousden, J.I., Brown, G.D.A., & Harley, T.A. (2000). Serial control of phonology in speech production: A hierarchical model. Cognitive Psychology, 41, 101-175.

McCormack, T.M., Brown, G.D.A., Vousden, J.I., & Henson, R.N.A. (2000). Children's serial recall errors: Implications for short-term memory development. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 76, 222-252.

Maylor, E.A., Vousden, J.I., & Brown, G.D.A. (1999). Adult age differences in short-term memory for serial order: Data and a model. Psychology and Aging, 14, 572-594.

Brown, G. D. A., Vousden, J. I., McCormack, T. M., & Hulme, C. (1999). The development of memory for serial order: A temporal-contextual distinctiveness model. International Journal of Psychology, 34.

Vousden, J.I., Brown, G.D.A. (1998). To repeat or not to repeat: The time course of response suppression in sequential behaviour. In J.A. Bullinaria, D.W. Glasspool, & G. Houghton. Proceedings of the Fourth Neural Computation and Psychology Workshop: Connectionist Representations. London: Springer-Verlag.

Brown, G.D.A., & Vousden, J.I. (1998). Adaptive analysis of sequential behaviour: Oscillators as rational mechanisms. In N. Chater & M. Oaksford (Eds.), Rational Models of Cognition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.