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Joni Holmes
Research staff, Memory and perception group
01223 273765
  • Working memory, executive function and attention
  • Understanding and remediating cognitive learning difficulties
  • Identifying risk and resilience factors for learning and mental health problems in childhood
Dr Joni Holmes is Head of the Centre for Attention Learning and Memory (CALM) at the Medical Research Council’s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge (CBU). Research conducted in CALM aims to illuminate the cognitive, neural and genetic underpinnings of learning difficulties (see with a view to developing targeted interventions and identifying risk factors for long-term difficulties. The CALM clinic provides free resources for professionals supporting struggling learners: Joni has a PhD in Psychology, which was awarded by the University of Durham in 2005. Prior to joining the CBU in 2011, Joni held numerous postdoctoral and lectureship positions around the UK. Publications
    • Astle, D.E., Bathelt, J., Zhang, M., the CALM Team, & Holmes, J. (2018). A data-driven approach to the classification of learning difficulties. Developmental Science, under review.
    • Rowe, A., Titterington, J., Holmes, J., Henry, L., & Taggart, L. (2018). A systematic review of the effectiveness of non-computerized interventions targeting working memory in 4-11 year olds. Cognition, under review.
    • Gathercole, S. E., Astle, D. A., Manly, T., Holmes, J., & CALM Team. (2018). Cognition and behaviour in learning difficulties and ADHD: A dimensional approach. Preprint: bioRxiv, 260265.
    • Bathelt, J., Holmes, J., & Astle, D. E. (2018). Data-driven subtyping of behavioural problems associated with ADHD in children. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, in press:
    • Jaroslawska, A. J., Gathercole, S. E., & Holmes, J. (2018). Following instructions in a dual-task paradigm: Evidence for a temporary motor store in working memory. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, in press: 1747021817743492.
    • Waterman, A., Atkinson, A., Aslam, S., Holmes, J., Jaroslawska, A., & Allen, R. (2017). Do actions speak louder than words? Examining children’s ability to follow instructions. Memory and Cognition, 45(6), 877-890.
    • Yang T., Allen R., Holmes J., Chan R.C.K. (2017). Following instructions in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): The benefits of action at presentation and recall. Frontiers in Psychology, 8.
    • Lau Zhu, A., Holmes, E., Butterfield, S., & Holmes, J. (2017). Selective association between Tetris game play and visuospatial working memory: A preliminary investigation. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 31, 438-445.
    • Jaroslawska, A. J., Gathercole, S. E., Allen, R., & Holmes, J. (2016). Following instructions from working memory: Why does action at encoding and recall help? Memory & Cognition, 44, 1183-1191.
    • Jaroslawska, A. J., Gathercole, S. E., Logie, M. R., & Holmes, J. (2016). Following instructions in a virtual school: Does working memory play a role? Memory & Cognition, 44, 580-589.
    • Holmes, J., Byrne, E., Gathercole, S.E., & Ewbank, M.P. (2016). Transcranial random noise does not enhance the effects of working memory training. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 28, 1471-1483.
    • Hawkins, E., Gathercole S.E, Astle D., Holmes J. (2016). Language problems and ADHD symptoms: How specific are the links? Brain Sciences, 6, 50.
    • Gathercole, S.E., Woolgar, F., the CALM Team, Manly, T., Astle, D., Kievit, R., & Holmes, J. (2016). How common are WM deficits in children with difficulties in reading and mathematics? Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 5, 384-394.
    • Holmes, J., Butterfield, S., Cormack, F., van Loenhoud, A., Ruggero, L., Kashikar, L., & Gathercole, S.E. (2015). Improving working memory in children with low language abilities, Frontiers in Developmental Psychology, 6, 519.
    • Holmes, J., Hilton, K.A., Place, M., Alloway, T.P., Elliott, J.G., & Gathercole, S.E. (2014). Children with low working memory and children with ADHD: same or different? Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8, 976.
    • Gathercole, S.E., & Holmes, J. (2014). Developmental impairments of working memory: Profiles and interventions. Perspectives on Language and Literacy, 40, 36.
    • Dunning, D.L., & Holmes, J. (2014). Does working memory training promote the use of strategies on untrained working memory tasks? Memory & Cognition, DOI: 10.3758/s13421-014-0410-5.
    • Zirk-Sadowski, J., Szucs, D., & Holmes, J. (2013). Content specificity in verbal short-term and verbal working memory. PLoS One, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079528.
    • Dunning, D.L., Holmes, J., & Gathercole, S.E. (2013).Does working memory training improve the classroom performance of children with poor working memory? A randomised controlled trial. Developmental Science, 16, 915-25.
    • Holmes, J., & Gathercole, S.E. (2013). Taking working memory training from the laboratory into schools. Educational Psychology, 34, 440-450.
    • Bennett, S., Holmes, J., & Buckley, S. (2013). Computerised memory training leads to sustained improvement in visuo-spatial short term memory skills in children with Down syndrome. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 118, 179-192.
    • Gathercole, S.E., Dunning, D.L., & Holmes, J. (2012). Cogmed training: Let's be realistic about intervention research. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 1, 201-203.
    • Holmes, J. (2012). Working memory and learning difficulties. Dyslexia Review, 23, 7-10.
    • Holmes, J. (2011). Baby Brain: Training executive control in infancy. Current Biology, 21, R684-R685.
    • Alloway, T P., Elliott, J., & Holmes, J (2010). The prevalence of ADHD-like symptoms in a community sample. Journal of Attention Disorders, 14, 52-56.
    • Holmes, J., Gathercole, S.E., & Dunning, D.L. (2010). Poor working memory: Impact and Interventions. In P.Bauer (Ed.) Advances in Child Development and Behaviour, Volume 39, Developmental Disorders and Interventions, J.Holmes, Academic Press: London, UK, 2010, pp.1-43.
    • Elliott, J., Gathercole, S.E., Alloway, T.P., Holmes, J., & Kirkwood, H. (2010). An Evaluation of a Classroom-Based Intervention to Help Overcome Working Memory Difficulties and Improve Long-Term Academic Achievement. Journal of Cognitive Education and Psychology, 9, 227-250.
    • Holmes, J., Gathercole, S E., Place, M., Dunning, D L., Hilton, K A., & Elliott, J G (2010). Working memory deficits can be overcome: Impacts of training and medication on working memory in children with ADHD, Applied Cognitive Psychology. 24, 827-836.
    • Holmes, J., Gathercole, S E., Place, M., Alloway, T P., Elliott, J G., & Hilton, K A. (2010). The diagnostic utility of executive function assessments in the identification of ADHD in children, Child & Adolescent Mental Health, 15, 37-43.
    • Alloway, T P., Gathercole, S E., Holmes, J., Place, M., & Elliott, J (2009). The diagnostic utility of behavioural checklists in identifying children with ADHD and children with working memory deficits. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 40, 353-366.
    • Holmes, J., Gathercole, S E., & Dunning, D L. (2009). Adaptive training leads to sustained enhancement of poor working memory in children, Developmental Science, 12, F9-F15.
    • Gathercole, S E., Alloway, T P., Kirkwood, H J., Elliott, J E., Holmes, J., & Hilton, K. (2008). Attentional and executive function behaviours in children with poor working memory. Learning and Individual Differences, 18, 214-223.
    • Holmes, J., Adams, J.W., & Hamilton, C J. (2008). Visuo-spatial working memory capacity and children's mathematical skills. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 20, 272-289.
    • Holmes, J. & Adams, J W. (2006). Working memory and children's mathematical skills: Implications for mathematical development and mathematics curricula. Educational Psychology, 26, 339-366.
  Pre-Registered Reports
  • Byrne, E. M., Gilbert, R. A., Kievit, R., & Holmes, J., (2018, February 13). Backward recall and n-back measures of working memory: a large-scale latent variable analysis. Retrieved from
  • Mareva, S., & Holmes, J. (2017, December 12) Network analysis: behaviour problems & communication skills" As Predicted (#7375)
  • Gathercole, S. E., Byrne, E. M., Holmes, J., & Norris, D. G. (2017, October 10). Training and transfer in forward and backward serial recall. Retrieved from
  • Lau-Zhu, A., Holmes, E. A., Holmes, J., & Butterfield, sally. (2017, July 5). Selective Association between Tetris Game Play and Visuospatial Working Memory: A Preliminary Investigation. Retrieved from
  • Byrne, E. M., Ewbank, M., & Holmes, J., (2017, March 31). Does transcranial electrical stimulation during working memory training enhance cross-paradigm transfer effects? Retrieved from
        • 2016-2018       Executive functions in affective contexts and emotion regulation capacity in adolescence. MRC Director’s Strategic Fund Award £40k. S. Schweizer, R. Kievit & J. Holmes
        • 2013-2015       Remediating reading difficulties: can working memory training really help? British Academy, £10k. J Holmes, D Dunning, S Gathercole
        • 2013-2014 Using transcranial electrical stimulation to enhance the effects of cognitive training (£35k). MRC Directors Strategic Fund, J Holmes & M Ewbank.
        •  2012-2015 Computerised training of working memory (Cogmed RM) in children who have survived a traumatic brain injury: A randomised controlled trial. (£125K). Action Medical Research. A Adlam, L Shepston, S Gathercole, J Holmes, F Gracey
        • 2011-2013 Working memory training (Cogmed RM) following paediatric acquired brain injury: a pilot study (£7k). British Academy: A Adlam, SE Gathercole, J Holmes
        • 2010-2011 Making working memory really work (£125k). ESRC: SE Gathercole, J Holmes
        • 2010-2010 The effects of cognitive training on cognitive performance of young people at increased risk of depression: a pilot study. (£7K). Oxfordshire Health Services Research Committee (OHSRC). Z Mannie, P Cowan, J Holmes.
        • 2009-2010 Improving working memory for children with Down Syndrome (£44k). Bailey Thomas Charitable Fund: SJ Bennett, S Buckley, J Holmes, SE Gathercole.
        • 2007-2008 An evaluation of a computerised working memory training programme in children who receive stimulant medication for ADHD (£125k). British Academy: J Holmes, SE Gathercole.
        • 2001-2004 Working memory and children's mathematical skills. (£24k). Departmental Studentship, University of Durham: J Holmes.
PhD Students Past Students Agnieszka Jaroslawska 2016, thesis: “The cognitive mechanisms of instruction-guided behaviour”   Elizabeth Byrne 2018, thesis “Working memory training and transcranial electrical brain stimulation”   Current Students Sinead O’Brien: Cognitive mechanism of reasoning skills Silvana Mareva: Behaviour problems and communication skills Erica Bottacin: Responses to working memory training in children with learning difficulties  
CBSU publications