N-CoDe Lab

Neuroscience of Communication Development Lab


Dr. Saloni Krishnan, Lab Director

I am a Reader (~Associate Professor) at Royal Holloway, University of London and I lead the N-CoDe Lab. My research focuses on how language is represented in the brain, and how organisation this might differ in those with developmental speech and language disorders, like DLD or stuttering.

I initially qualified as a speech and language therapist in India, and practised as a clinician in both India and Dubai. I completed my PhD at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck, University of London. After my PhD, I held postdoctoral positions at UCL and Oxford. While at the University of Oxford, I was a Junior Research Fellow at Corpus Christi College and a stipendiary lecturer at Lady Margaret Hall. 

I have won awards for my work, including  the BPS Developmental Section Neil O’Connor Award, a commendation in the individual researcher category from the British Neuroscience Association (Credibility in Neuroscience Prize). Recently, I was named an APS Rising Star.

Outside of work, I’m currently watching language development in the wild, seeing my young daughter master speaking and reading. I also love cocktails, travelling, and cake. My guilty pleasure is reading – I can’t put a book down once I start it, even if it’s terrible!

Postdoctoral Researchers

Desislava Arabadzhiyska

I am a postdoc researcher in the N-CoDe lab examining intrinsic reward and motivation in children with reading disorders. My funding comes from an Academy of Medical Sciences Springboard award. During my PhD I studied the neurocomputational principles of social decision making using simultaneous EEG-fMRI and tDCS in Prof. Marios Philiastides’ lab and during my undergraduate and master studies I investigated the cognitive processes involved in irony detection under the supervision of Dr. Christoph Scheepers.

Outside of work, I like to hike, read a good book, watch a good movie or play some chess (badly). I also occasionally play the guitar and I have recently picked up drawing (both of which I am still terrible at!).

PhD Students

Amrita Bains

I am a PhD student in the N-CoDe lab investigating and enhancing motivation for reading, working in collaboration with the Reading Agency. I am funded via an ESRC studentship. I am currently examining the cognitive and neural bases of reward and motivation when reading. Outside of work I enjoy a good book, a good film, a wonder around a city finishing with a cup of tea or a cocktail.

Twitter | Departmental Website | Personal website


Courtney Hooton

I am a PhD student in the LARA lab at Royal Holloway investigating the orthographic facilitation of foreign language learning in children, collaborating with the N-CoDe Lab. My project focuses on the use of written word forms to strengthen foreign word learning in 7–10-year-olds, how this may vary across different languages and how feasible it would be to implement these methods in a school environment. My research is funded by the department via a Teaching Associate studentship- I spend three days of the week working on my PhD and the other two days teaching statistics in the Psychology department.

Outside of work, I enjoy reading, baking and catching up with friends across the country

Twitter | Departmental Website

Holly Coates McDowall

I am currently doing my Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Royal Holloway. I spend half of my time working in the NHS in mental health services and the rest of my time studying at the University. Over the next few years of my training, I will be doing a research project in the N-CoDe Lab investigating mental health in Dyslexia.

In my spare time I love painting, swimming, and listening to true crime podcasts.



Undergraduate Research Assistants

Hannah Jones

I am currently a third year Psychology student with a specific interest in atypical development, especially early invention and supportive measures research for neurological and developmental disorders. From my own experiences with autism and other conditions, I’ve leant that language research is vital. Language is not limited to education but also socialising with friends, impacting mental health and the ability to reach out for help. I hope in the future to help people as I was once helped. In my spare time, I consume every book within my reach and write as much as can, all while being loved by my dogs and drinking excessive amounts of tea.

Hannah currently holds an Outstanding Student Research Bursary from the Department of Psychology, and was previously funded by a Royal Holloway Summer Skills Development Placement award.