I am an Associate Professor in Psychology at UCL Institute of Education. 

After obtaining a BA in Linguistics and an MA in psycholinguistics at the University of Antwerp, I moved to London in 2004 where I obtained an MSc in Cognitive Neuropsychology at Birkbeck College London.

I worked for a few years as a researcher for Prof. Annette Karmiloff-Smith (Birkbeck College London), Prof Julie Dockrell and Dr. Matthew Saxton (Institute of Education) before I started my PhD under the supervision of Dr. Gabriella Rundblad and Dr. Dagmara Annaz at King’s College London.

In my PhD I investigated metaphor and metonymy comprehension in typically developing children and children with Williams Syndrome.  After my PhD, I was a post-doctoral researcher with Dr Dagmara Annaz at Middlesex University for a few months. I joined Kingston University from 2010 to 2018 where I started the Child Development and Learning Difficulties  (CDLD) lab.


My research aims to obtain a better understanding of the complexity of development, especially the impact of environmental factors such as educational practice, education policies, and home environment, focusing on number and language development through the study of cross-syndrome comparisons and individual differences. My research is interdisciplinary including evidence from educational neuroscience, psychology, linguistics and education. I use a range of methodologies, including questionnaires, focus groups, interviews, preferential looking, experimental tasks, new technologies and eye tracking (Tobii) as well as intervention studies in order to obtain a better understanding of the complexity of development.

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, such as Williams syndrome, Down syndrome, Autism, Developmental Language Disorder, and dyscalculia, in order to aid the development of economically valid training and educational programmes. Lately, my research also includes examination of implications of educational policies for parents and children with neurodevelopmental disorders, including new SEND code of practice and transitions. 

My research has been funded by various funding bodies, including the Nuffield Foundation, Baily Thomas Charitable Fund, British Academy, Jerome Lejeune Foundation and Williams syndrome Foundation.

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 am an asssociate editor for Journal Research in Developmental Disabilities.

I occasionally review submissions for International Journal of Language & Communication DisordersJournal of Clinical and Experimental PsychologyBritish Journal of Educational PsychologyResearch in Developmental DisabilitiesDevelopmental Science, Frontiers and Journal of Intellectual Disability Research.

I am the educational needs advisor for the Williams Syndrome Foundation, UK for schools and parents and I am a Fellow of Higher Academy for Education.


2020-2021 Tye, C., et al & Van Herwegen, J. (Collaborator). Baily Thomas Charitable Fund (£66,845). Covid-19 impact on mental health and wellbeing in families of children with rare genetic and neurodevelopmental syndromes: CoIN Study. 

2020-2021 Palikara, O & Van Herwegen, J. (CI). Baily Thomas (£27,927). Back to secondary school for children with neurodevelopmental disorders in the times of COVID-19: the effect on children’s academic and psychosocial adjustment.

2020-2021 Outhwaite, L., Herodotou, C. & Van Herwegen, J. (CI). Nuffield Foundation (£85,879). Can Maths Apps Add Value to Learning? A Systematic Review & Content Analysis.

2018-2019 Van Herwegen, J. (PI) & Thomas, M.S.C. Williams syndrome Foundation (£27,000). Cogntivie development in Williams syndrome.

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.


Some recent presented talks

Van Herwegen, J. (March 2020). Transition from primary to secondary school for children with Williams syndrome and Down syndrome: issues and examples of good practice. CEDAR University of Warwick (invited talk).

Van Herwegen, J.  (November 2019). Williams syndrome in the classroom. University of Padova (invited talk).

Van Herwegen, J. (October 2019). Relating basic research on Williams syndrome to education. University of Fribourg (invited talk).

Van Herwegen, J. (September 2019). Cognitive development in Williams syndrome: Evidence from longitudinal data. Williams Syndrome Researchers meeting. University of Durham (invited talk).

Van Herwegen, J. (July, 2019). Challenges and solutions to improving educational outcomes. European Conference on Education (ECE), IAFOR (Invited Keynote)

Van Herwegen, J. (June, 2019). Autism in the classroom. Emotional Wellbeing and SEND conference, Ipswich Research School. (Invited Keynote)

Van Herwegen, J (March, 2019). Neurodevelopmental Disorders in the classroom. Psychology and Human Development, UCL Institute of Education (invited talk).

Van Herwegen, J (February, 2019).  Relating basic research on developmental disorders to education. Centre For Educational Neuroscience (invited talk).

Van Herwegen, J., Ashworth, M., & Palikara, O. (September, 2018). Parental views on special educational needs provision for neurodevelopmental disorders. EARLI SIG15, Potsdam.

Van Herwegen, J., Ashworth, M., Burchell, E., & Palikara, O. (September, 2018). Transition from primary to secondary school: the case of Down syndrome. Down Syndrome Research Forum, Reading.

Van Herwegen, J. (May, 2018). Williams syndrome and EHCPs. Williams Syndrome Foundation conference (invited talk).

Van Herwegen, J. (March, 2018). Neurodevelopmental disorders in the classroom. UCL/IOE (invited talk).

Van Herwegen, J. (January, 2018). Autism in the classroom. TeachFirst, London (invited talk).

Van Herwegen, J., Ranzato, E., & Simms, V. (September 2017). Mathematical Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Workshop "Linguistic and Cognitive Influences on Numerical Cognition" Tuebingen.

Van Herwegen, J., Ranzato, E., Karmiloff-Smith, & Simms, V. (September 2017). Atypical development of Approximate Number Sense abilities in Williams syndrome and Down syndrome: evidence from behavioral and eye movement data. British Psychology Society: Developmental Section, Stradford-Upon-Avon.

Van Herwegen, J., Ranzato, E., Karmiloff-Smith, & Simms, V. (September, 2017). Number development in individuals with Down syndrome: the approximate number sense and attention throughout the life span. Down syndrome Education International, Hertfordshire, UK.

Van Herwegen, J., Costa, H.M., Nicholson, B., & Donlan, C. (July 2017). Improving number foundations in preschoolers: ANS versus symbolic Knowledge. Cognitive Science meeting 2017, London.

Van Herwegen, J., Ashworth, M., & Palikara, O. (July, 2017). Capturing the voices of children and young people with complex needs in the Education, Health and Care plans: the case of Williams syndrome. International School of Psychology Association, Manchester, UK.