School of Psychology

Image of Nicola Pitchford

Nicola Pitchford

Associate Professor, Faculty of Science



Dr Nicola Pitchford is an Associate Professor in the School of Psychology at The University of Nottingham, UK. Her research expertise lies in the field of developmental neuropsychology, more specifically how the cognitive processes that underpin scholastic progression develop over childhood. She works with specialist populations of children with acquired neurological disorders. Her clinical research centres on discovering how stroke, preterm birth, and brain tumour impact on scholastic and neuronal development and wellbeing.

Nicola works at the interface of theory and practice. She collaborates with academics from different disciplines (e.g. psychology, medicine, education) and works with practitioners and professionals from a diverse range of fields (e.g. neurologists, neonatologists, oncologists, nurses, educators, companies, charities, non-government organisations, and government officials) to ensure that her research secures maximum benefits for key users and stakeholders.

Nicola's most recent research is exploring the use of innovative mobile technology to support the acquisition of basic skills (numeracy, literacy, English) by primary school children in Malawi and the UK. This exciting programme of work is being carried out in partnership with the charities onebillion ( and Voluntary Service Overseas. The evaluation studies she has designed and conducted, both in Malawi and the UK, have led to global interest following BBC coverage, as her research formed the subject of a BBC Click documentary that was also released on BBC Worldwide News ( This leading-edge psychological research is thus being mobilised and applied in service of the 'grand challenges' concerning education and disadvantage, notably those outlined in the 2015 Millennium Development goals for Malawi.

Nicola is also Guest Editor for the internationally renowned, scientific, open access journal, Frontiers in Psychology, which is currently publishing a collection of papers reporting on "Using technology to revolutionise learning: Assessment, intervention, evaluation and historical perspectives" (

Research Summary

I am currently involved with several research studies. These include:

1) The effectiveness of mobile technology in supporting the development of scholastic skills in primary school children in developing countries, including Malawi, and in high-income countries such as the UK. Access the following links for more on this project: 2) Cognitive and motor development in vulnerable children (following preterm birth, brain tumour, and in children from areas of high social deprivation) 3) The effects of cerebellar tumour sustained in childhood on neurodevelopmental outcome and wellbeing 4) Orthographic processing in developing, skilled, and dyslexic readers

Recent Publications

  • OUTHWAITE, L.A., GULLIFORD, A. and PITCHFORD, N.J., 2017. Effectiveness of a tablet intervention to support the development of early mathematical skills in UK primary school children. Computers and Education. 108, 43-58
  • KYPARISSIADIS, A., VAN HEUVEN, W.J.B., PITCHFORD, N.J. and LEDGEWAY, T., 2017. GreekLex 2: A comprehensive upgrade of the GreekLex database with syllabic, phonological and part-of-speech information. PLoS ONE. 12(2), e0172493
  • JOHNSTON, R., PITCHFORD, N. J., ROACH, N. W. and LEDGEWAY, T., 2017. Encoding of rapid time-varying information is impaired in poor readers Journal of Vision. 17(5), 1-13
  • JOHNSTON, R., PITCHFORD, N. J., ROACH, N. W. and LEDGEWAY, T., 2017. Visual perception in dyslexia is limited by sub-optimal scale selection Scientific Reports. 7, 6593

School of Psychology

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