IAS Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor Paola Palladino, University of Pavia, Italy

IAS BMVP Paola Palladino

The Role of Memory in Reading and Spelling: a Cross-Language Study

3 June - 1 July 2017


Paola Palladino  is Associate Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Pavia, Italy, with a Scientific National Accreditation as Full Professor (2013). She graduated in Psychology in 1992 from the University of Padova, Italy (110 summa cum laude). In 2000 she obtained a Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Padova; her PhD thesis "Forgetting to facilitate remembering and understanding: Inhibition in working memory and text comprehension" received the AIP (Italian Association of Psychology) award for the best PhD thesis in 2000

Her main research interests are working memory and updating, as well as learning disabilities and the relationship between working memory and learning disability.  She has produced around eighty national and international publications, half indexed.  Her publications have received around 770 total citations (Scopus, 2016) and her current h-index is 15.

She is on the scientific board of the European Working Memory Society, and has served as a referee for several national and international scientific journals. She has refereed for the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) 2012/2013; Dutch Programme Council for Educational Research (PROO) 2013; Israel Science Foundation (ISC) 2013-2014.

She is currently a member of the board of University of Pavia Doctoral School in Psychology. Since 2005 she has been Director of the postgraduate School on Learning Disabilities, and is the Erasmus Coordinator for Psychology at the University of Pavia. She has been invited speaker at the following events: ESRC seminar “Reading comprehension and working memory” at University of Lancaster, UK, January 2008; French National Conference “Approches cognitive et développementale de l’apprentissage de la lecture - Difficultés en lecture, outils et technologies d’accompagnement de l’apprentissage” Université d’ Angers, France, Novembre, 2008; seminar promoted by Lancaster University Atypical Development Unit at the British Psychological Society on “Memory and Education ” University of Lancaster, UK, June 2011.  3


Recent studies by Palladino and colleagues (2013; 2016) have highlighted the specific error patterns of Italian children with dyslexia (CD) in reading and spelling when using English. This situation provides a unique opportunity to test the role of cognitive processes in reading and spelling in transparent versus opaque orthographies.  While Italian literacy is acquired through a consistent repetition of the same letter to sound associations, English requires additional written lexical knowledge. Italian reading is therefore a highly predictable process compared to reading in an irregular language/orthography such as English. The regularity of Italian, compared to English, may emphasize the role of repetition learning in literacy acquisition.

Professor Palladino's project in collaboration with the School of Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol aims to investigate the role of long-term sequential learning in literacy acquisition. Consistently repeating a sequence at regular intervals results in better recall of that sequence relative to the interleaved non-repeated sequences (the Hebb repetition paradigm, Hebb, 1961), and has also been linked to literacy development.  The planned project would adopt a cross-language perspective to test the relationship between repetition learning and literacy, testing English children as they learn to read new words in both the English and Italian languages in Bristol, and a subsequent corresponding cross-language study with Italian children in Pavia. This study would provide new insights into the nature of the relationship between the learning of serial order, novel word acquisition, and literacy. The results would provide direct evidence for the importance of serial order maintenance in long-term memory in driving learning in these areas. The cross language comparison between a more and a less transparent language would also provide empirical support for theoretical models of the role of long-term memory in verbal learning and reading.  

During her stay in Bristol, Professor Palladino will be hosted by Professor Chris Jarrold, Experimental Psychology.

Professor Palladino will be delivering the following seminars during her visit:

IAS Seminar: School of Experimental Psychology

Wed 21st June, 2pm, Room G1, 7 Priory Road

Long-term memory and updating: how strength of associations modulates updating cost

In everyday activities, working memory updating is a vital process, representing the core process of complex cognitive tasks such as the integration of new and old patterns of information. In this talk recent research on the connection between updating and long-term memory will be presented.  Indeed, an important and relatively neglected issue in updating research concerns how information retained in LTM can be differently updated in ongoing processing. Few studies specifically investigating the process of creation, maintenance, updating and releasing of bindings (or associations) between elements, that are not arbitrary but that are built up on the basis of long-term memory (LTM) organization, will be presented. In particular the prediction that strong LTM associations between items will more difficult to be updated than weak ones was tested and results will be presented and discussed.

IAS Seminar: Graduate School of Education

Thursday 22nd June, 1 pm, Helen Wodehouse Lecture Theatre, Graduate School of Education, 35 Berkeley Square

Learning a second language for students with Dyslexia: the case of Italian students learning English as L2

This talk will focus on reading and spelling skills in Italian children with dyslexia attempting to learn English as a second language. A recent Italian law allows school to exempt children with dyslexia from studying English as second language in order to avoid them further frustration and learning difficulties. However literature on this subject is sparse and controversial. Recent studies on this topic will be described.  Results in terms of English as second language reading and spelling speed, accuracy, and type of errors will be presented and compared to both control group and low achieving children without dyslexia. Results will be discussed focusing both on theoretical research impact and on how they may affect education policies. 

IAS: Postgraduate student seminar

Wed 28th June, 1 pm, Senior Common Room, School of Experimental Psychology, 12a Priory Road

Working memory and language: how development in semantic organization may affect working memory

The seminar aims to focus on recent studies on the role of semantic knowledge in verbal working memory performance, driven by the idea that language has a crucial role in memory performance and its role is often underestimated or neglected. Semantic knowledge from age 4-5 to age 7-8 develops from simple to more complex types of associations between concepts and words. Developmental data were collected from these different age groups comparing working memory performances with words that are arbitrarily, thematically, or categorically associated with each other. Categorical association is indeed later acquired compared to thematic association and has intrinsic features that may have a beneficial effect on memory. Results will be discussed in order to clarify how semantic knowledge and its organization could affect verbal working memory in a developmental perspective.