Dr. Joni Holmes – Transdiagnostic approaches to understanding why children struggle at school

Dr. Joni Holmes is the 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 with a view to developing targeted interventions and identifying risk factors for long-term difficulties.

In her CEN talk, Joni shared results from a recent study on 800 struggling learners, that were referred to the CALM by a variety of practitioners (e.g. special needs co-ordinators, paediatricians, child psychologists and psychiatrists, and speech and language therapists). Joni and her team examined the nature of children’s difficulties, and the mechanisms underlying their reading, spelling and maths performance.


You can watch the full seminar here.

Full details about the study are available in the following papers:

Siugzdaite, R., Bathelt, J., Holmes, J. & Astle, D. (2020). Transdiagnostic brain mapping in developmental disorders. Current Biology.

Holmes, J., Guy, J., Kievit, R., Bryant, A., & Gathercole, S.E. (2020). Cognitive dimensions of learning in children with problems in attention, learning and memory. Journal of Educational Psychology, under review.

Mareva, S., the CALM Team, & Holmes, J. (2019). Transdiagnostic associations across communication, cognitive and behavioural problems in a developmentally at-risk population. BMC Pediatrics, 19, 452-462.

Holmes, J., Bryant, A., & Gathercole, S. E. (2019). Protocol for a transdiagnostic study of children with problems of attention, learning and memory (CALM). BMC Pediatrics, 19(1), 10.

Astle, D. E., Bathelt, J., CALM Team, & Holmes, J. (2018). Remapping the cognitive and neural profiles of children who struggle at school. Developmental science, 22(1), e12747. 

You can also read Joni’s team paper for TES, and a recent BBC report on the work carried out at CALM.

The CALM clinic also provides free resources for professionals supporting struggling learners.

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