Dr Olivia Afonso

BSc Psychology, PhD Cognitive Neuroscience and Education

Senior Lecturer in Psychology

Department of Psychology, Health and Professional Development

Olivia Afonso


Olivia teaches in both the BSc Honors Psychology programme, in which she is also Year 1 Lead. Sehe also supervises research projects from students in the MSc Psychology programme as well as PhD students. She conducts research in the area of written language production, with a specific focus on spelling processes. She is actively involved in public engagement and knowledge exchange activities developed both at Oxford Brookes and as a member of a community of multidisciplinary researchers working in Oxford (SRUK/CERU).

Teaching and supervision


Modules taught

Olivia is Module leader in the following modules:

  • Introduction to Psychological Research
  • Topics in Developmental Psychology

She also teaches in:

  • Understanding Developmental Disorders

Research Students

Name Thesis title Completed
Sam Bond A Detailed Exploration into the Constraints on Statistical Learning Active
Shannon Gibson Development of Word Learning Heuristics in Monolingual and Bilingual Infants Active


Olivia's research interests concern language processing in general and writing production in particular. In her investigation, she addresses the cognitive processes underlying typical and atypical spelling and handwriting in both children and adults. She is also interested in the differences between handwriting and typewriting from a cognitive and developmental perspective. Her research is mainly based on the analysis of online measures of the written response, such as written latencies, writing duration, pen pressure and in-air pen duration and trajectory.

For more information, visit the Writing Lab webpage.



slide 1 of 6

Professional information

Memberships of professional bodies

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Member of the European Literacy Network (WG3)
  • Full member of the European Association for Research in Learning and Instruction (EARLI) and the Specific Interest Group in Writing
  • Member of the Executive Committee of the National Handwriting Association
  • Member of the Executive Committee of the Cognitive Section of the British Psychological Society


  • The interaction between handwriting and spelling processes in developmental dyslexia, BPS Cognitive Section Annual meeting 2021, 2nd September 2021.
  • Influences of spelling on handwriting speed in typical and atypical development. Keynote speaker in the Members’ Day of the National Handwriting Association (online), 9 July 2021.
  • How we learn to write. Invited speaker in the series “Neurological perspectives on writing and the fascinating underlying processes” of the Royal Society of Medicine (online), 25 May 2021.
  • The development of handwriting speed and its relationship with graphic speed and spelling, 2020 Conference of Association for Reading and Writing in Asia (ARWA), 24 September 2020.  
  • Repetition facilitation and repetition inhibition effects in handwriting kinematics: What do they tell us about letter position coding?, 21st conference of the European Society of Cognitive Psychology (ESCOP) 2019, 27 September 2019.