Dr Laura Shapiro


Senior Lecturer in Psychology

School of Life and Health Sciences
Aston University
Birmingham B4 7ET

telephone: +44 (0) 121 204 4052
fax: +44 (0) 121 204 4090

Senior Lecturer on the Psychology Teaching Programme

Research Group

Basic and Applied Neurosciences

Research Centre

Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing (ARCHA)  

Centre for Research in Vision and Hearing(CRVH)

Dr Laura Shapiro

Research Interests 

Reading Development

I am interested in the relationship between pre-school cognitive skills and instruction on early reading progress, and in particular, the relative importance of general auditory skills and specific speech skills in beginning and intermediate stages of reading. My main approach is to conduct longitudinal studies with large, heterogeneous samples of beginning readers in order to build models of the relationship between underlying skills and reading. I am fortunate to have received generous support for these projects. Previous work was supported by the ESRC and British Academy, in collaboration with Julia Carroll and Jonathan Solity. Current projects include:

The Aston Literacy Project, an ESRC funded project, with Research Fellow Anna Cunningham, PhD student Kate Swoboda and Co-Investigators Caroline Witton, Joel Talcott, Kim Rochelle and Adrian Burgess. See the ALP website for more details.

The Aston Phonics Comparison project, with Co-Investigator Jonathan Solity, funded by the Learning Skills Research. Our aim is to examine the reading progress of children attending schools across Birmingham that deliver different Synthetic Phonics programmes.

The Reading Comprehension Project, with Research Assistant Salma Kadiri and Co-Investigator Selma Babayiğit. Our aim is to examine which skills (e.g., vocabulary, grammar and memory) are most important for reading comprehension in children from diverse home language backgrounds. See the Reading Comprehension website for more details.


I am also interested in how children learn to categorise objects and how adults store and access this knowledge. This research has been supported by an ESRC studentship to Julia Badger and a research grant from Twycross Zoo Education Department.

Ph.D Students

Kate Swoboda (commenced 2011): The influence of auditory and phonological deficits on reading development; Co-supervised with Caroline Witton. See Kate's website for more details.


Julia Badger (completed 2011): An investigation into children’s inductive reasoning strategies: What drives the development of category induction? Julia is now a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Oxford, see Julia's website for more details.

Jessica Gilbert (completed 2010): A systematic exploration of perceptual and semantic differences in category-specific object processing using MEG; Co-supervisor Gareth Barnes. Jessica is now a Postdoctoral Associate at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, see Jessica's website for more details.


[Click here] to link to papers available to download. Please contact me for other reprints.

  • Carroll, J.R., Solity, J. & Shapiro, L.R. (2015). Predicting dyslexia using pre-reading skills: The role of sensorimotor and cognitive abilities, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, in press.
  • Shapiro, L.R., & Solity, J. (2015). Differing effects of two synthetic phonics programmes on early reading development, British Journal of Educational Psychology, in press.
  • Cunningham, A.J., Witton, C., Talcott, J.B., Burgess, A.P., & Shapiro, L.R. (2015). Deconstructing phonological tasks: The contribution of stimulus and response type to the prediction of early decoding skills, Cognition, 143 , pp. 178-186. http://authors.elsevier.com/a/1RLGm2Hx2Q8kR

  • Badger, J.R., & Shapiro, L.R., (2014): Category structure affects the developmental trajectory of children's inductive inferences for both natural kinds and artefacts, Thinking & Reasoning. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13546783.2014.952338.

  • Shapiro, L.R., Carroll, J.R., & Solity, J. (2013). Separating the Influences of Pre-reading Skills on Early Word and Nonword Reading. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 116(2), 278-295. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2013.05.011

  • Badger, J.R., & Shapiro, L.R. (2012). Evidence of a transition from perceptual to category induction in three to nine year old children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 113, 131-146.[Click here for downloadable publications]
  • Gilbert, J.R., Shapiro, L. R. & Barnes, G. R. (2012). A Peak-Clustering Method for MEG Group Analysis to Minimise Artefacts Due to Smoothness. PLoS ONE 7(9): e45084. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045084.
  • Badger, J.R. & Shapiro, L.R. (2010). Development of reasoning: Behavioral evidence to support reinforcement over cognitive control accounts. Cognitive Neuroscience, 1 (2), 138-139. [Click here for downloadable publications]
  • Shapiro, L.R., Hurry, J., Masterson, J., Wydell, T. & Doctor, E. (2009). Classroom Implications of Recent Research into Literacy Development: From Predictors to Assessment. Dyslexia, 15(1), 1-22 [Click here for downloadable publications]
  • Shapiro, L.R. & Solity, J. (2008). Delivering Phonological and Phonics Training within Whole Class Teaching. The British Journal of Educational Psychology, 78 (4), 597-620. [Click here for downloadable publications]
  • Solity, J. & Shapiro, L.R. (2008). Developing the Practice of Educational Psychologists through Theory and Research. Education and Child Psychology, 25 (3), 119-145. [Click here for downloadable publications]
  • Shapiro, L. R., Lamberts, K. & Olson, A. C. (2008). Measuring the influence of similarity on category-specific effects. The European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 20(2), 346-366. [download pdf]
  • Roberson, D., Davidoff, J., Davies, I.R.L. & Shapiro, L. R. (2006) Colour Categories and Category Acquisition in Himba and English. In N. Pitchford & C. Bingham (Eds.) Progress in Colour Studies, 159-172. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. [download pdf]
  • Ellefson, M.R., Shapiro, L.R. & Chater, N. (2006). Asymmetrical switch costs in children. Cognitive Development, 21, 108-130. [download pdf]
  • Shapiro, L. R. & Olson, A. C. (2005). Does normal processing provide evidence of specialised semantic subsystems? Language and Cognitive Processes, 20(6). [download pdf]
  • Roberson, D., Davidoff, J., Davies, I.R.L. & Shapiro, L.R. (2005). Color categories: Confirmation of the Relativity Hypothesis. Cognitive Psychology, 50, 378-411. [download pdf]
  • Roberson, D., Davidoff, J., Davies, I. & Shapiro, L. (2004). The Development of Color Categories in Two Languages: A Longitudinal Study. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 133, 554-571. [download pdf]
  • Lamberts, K. & Shapiro, L. (2002). Exemplar models and category specific effects. In E. M. E. Forde and G. W. Humphreys (Eds.), Category-Specificity in Brain and Mind. Psychology Press. [download pdf]
  • Roberson, D., Davidoff, J. & Shapiro, L. (2002). Squaring the circle: the cultural relativity of ‘good’ shape. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 2(1), 33-93. [download pdf]