My research focuses mainly on language and number development in both typical and atypical developmental disorders, such as Williams syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Down syndrome, and Specific Language Impairment. Linking the aforementioned areas of research activity, I am interested in individual differences, as well as exploring what cognitive abilities and strategies relate to successful performance in typical populations and how these differ in atypical populations, in order to aid the development of economically valid training programmes. I believe that it is important to study abilities from infancy onwards in order to obtain a better understanding of how cognitive abilities develop over time and how performance across different cognitive areas relate to each other. I employ a range of methods and experimental designs, including spontaneous language samples, preferential looking, experimental tasks, and eye tracking (Tobii).

I am co-ordinator of the Child Development and Learning Difficulties (CDLD) Unit and a member of the Eye-movement and Cognition Lab (iMCL) at Kingston University. I use a range of methodologies and for some of my studies I use a Tobii eye-tracker which records the eye-movements of the participant. This harmless and non-invasive recording device (see picture on the right) allows me to investigate where and how long a participant was looking at while performing a certain task/ watching TV.

Professional Activities

Organiser of BPS seminar series: Neurodevelopmental disorders seminar series (2012-2013) with co-organisers E. Farran (Institute of Education) and D. Riby (Newcastle University).

I occasionally review submissions for International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, Journal of Clinical and Experimental Psychology, British Journal of Educational Psychology, Research in Developmental Disabilities, Developmental Science, Frontiers and Journal of Intellectual Disability Research.


2018-2019 Van Herwegen, J. & Palikara, O. (PI). Baily Thomas (£53,014). Transition from primary to secondary school for children with neurodevelopmental disorders: a cross-syndrome comparison of cognitive, behavioural, and mental health outcomes.

2017-2018 Stojanovic, V, & Van Herwegen, J. (CI). Jérôme Lejeune Foundation (€19,645). Improving cognitive abilities and educational outcomes in children with Down syndrome through mediated learning.

2016-2017 Van Herwegen, J. (PI), & Palikara, O. Williams Syndrome Foundation (£22,699). Raising awareness and meeting the needs of children and young people with Williams Syndrome under the new SEND Code of Practice in the UK.

2016-2017 Freeth, M., Lane, C. & Van Herwegen, J (CI). Baily Thomas (£4,704). Why do individuals with Sotos syndrome struggle with maths?

2016-2017 Purser, H., Van Herwegen. J. (named participant) & Thomas, M.S.C. British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant (£ 8,783). Building a foundation to develop an intervention to remediate humour comprehension deficits in autism and Down syndrome

2015-2016 Van Herwegen, J. (PI), Simms, V., & Karmiloff-Smith, A. British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant (£9,897). The influence of
domain general abilities on number development in Williams syndrome and Down
syndrome: evidence from eye tracking.

2015-2016 Van Herwegen, J. (PI) & Donlan, C. Nuffield Foundation (£139,564). Improving preschoolers' number foundations.

2012-2013 Farran, E.K. & Van Herwegen, J. British Academy (£9,960). The use of eye-tracking to investigate landmark knowledge and route-learning strategies in typical and atypical development

2012-2013 Van Herwegen, J., Farran, E.K., Riby, D. British Psychological Society seminar series competition, co-sponsored by Williams Syndrome Foundation and BPS developmental section (total £4800). Neurodevelopmental disorders: Exploring sensitive methods of assessment across development

2012-2013 Van Herwegen, J. (£3000). Capability Research Fund at Kingston University, London. Plus: Pre-school number learning scheme.

2007-2010 Van Herwegen, J. University of London Central Research Fund (£1,997). The understanding of Metaphor and Metonymy in Williams syndrome.



Across different projects, I am currently collaborating with Dr Dagmara Dimitriou (Institute of Education), Dr Gabriella Rundblad (King's College London), Dr Emily Farran (Institute of Education), Dr Yvonne Griffiths (Institute of Education), Prof Annette Karmiloff-Smith (Birkbeck, University of London), Dr Olympia Palikara (University of Roehampton), Dr Deborah Riby (Durham University), Dr Tim Smith (Birkbeck, University of London), Dr Harry Purser (Nottingham Trent University), Dr Harriet Tenenbaum (University of Surrey), Prof Michael Thomas (Birkbeck, University of London), Prof Maria Chiara Passolunghi (University of Trieste), Dr Victoria Simm (University of Ulster).

PhD students

Erica Ranzato (September 2016- current)

Hayley Hunt (March 2011-Current)

Hiwet Costa (visiting PhD student from University of Trieste: January- August 2013)

Marga Palmer (visiting PhD student from University of Balearic Islands: March-June 2015)

Research Assistants

Paulien Eijkeler (January 2018-

Eleonora Gabriele (May 2017-

Maria Ashworth (November 2016-

Raquel Rodriguez (September 2017-December 2017)

Carolina De Vivo (May 2015-December 2017)

Bethany Nicholson (May 2015-August 2016) 

Angela Mullins (June- August 2013)

Naianna Robertsson (June 2012- May 2013)

Alison Harten (June- July 2012)

Maria Papoutsi (September 2011- May 2012)

Kristýna Tomšů (visiting student Jan- February 2012)

Egle Butt (October 2010- May 2011)

Jane Morrison (October 2010- May 2011)