Assistant Professor

Joshua Snell

Assistant Professor



I primarily investigate language processing, alongside working memory, attention and oculomotor control. In particular I’m interested in how these various components come together in driving human’s ability to read. Currently my work is supported by a Marie Skłodovska-Curie grant from the European Research Council. This project largely focuses on discerning the role of attention in reading, as well as the potential role of attention in dyslexia. I make use of eye-tracking and pupillometry, behavioral techniques, computational modelling, big data approaches and electro-encephalography. I am also co-supervising Frank van der Horst, who is carrying out a PhD project on human’s ability to detect counterfeit banknotes.


After obtaining a bachelor’s degree at the Utrecht University in 2012, I enrolled in the master’s program of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in 2014. In 2015, I carried out my master’s thesis project in Marseille, France, under the supervision of Jonathan Grainger. There, I was awarded a ‘bourse d’excellence’ from the Brain & Language Research Institute to carry out a PhD project—again under Jonathan’s supervision—to investigate the extent to which readers process information from multiple words simultaneously. Although I was officially based in Marseille, I continued to spend some of my time at the VU—primarily due to ongoing collaborations with Martijn Meeter and others. I obtained my doctoral degree (summa cum laude) in the summer of 2018, after which I continued to work at the Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive in Marseille for another year as a post-doctoral researcher. In October 2019 I officially moved back to the VU after having been awarded a Marie Skłodovska-Curie grant from the European Research Council. Together with Jan Theeuwes I started investigating the role of attention in reading. As of January 2020 I was promoted to assistant professor.