Holly Branigan


  • Psychology
  • School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
Room S13, Psychology Building
7 George Square, Edinburgh
Post code


My main interests are in language production (especially syntactic processing) in both monolinguals and bilinguals: how do people represent the grammar of their first language or a second language, and how do they choose between alternative syntactic structures? I'm also interested in dialogue, including human-computer interaction, and how factors such as speakers' personality traits and their beliefs about their listeners affect their behaviour. More recently, I've begun to work on language processing in children: do children represent and process language, particularly syntax, in the same way as adults? I am always happy to hear from prospective PhD students who would be interested in working on any of these (or related) topics. If you are a parent interested in learning more about our child development research, you might want to check out the Wee Science website. 

Representative publications

  1. Allen, M.L., Haywood, S., Rajendran, T., & Branigan, H.P. (2011). Evidence for syntactic alignment in children with autism. Developmental Science, 14, 540–548.
  2. Foucart, A., Branigan, H.P., & Bard, E.G. (2010). Determiner selection in Romance languages: Evidence from French. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 36, 1414–1421.
  3. Branigan, H.P., Pickering, M.J., Pearson, J. & McLean, J.F. (2010). Linguistic alignment between humans and computers. Journal of Pragmatics, 42, 2355–2368.
  4. Jones, M. W., Branigan, H. P., Hatzidaki, A., & Obregon, M. (2010). Is the 'naming' deficit in dyslexia a misnomer? Cognition, 116, 56-70.
  5. Branigan, H.P., Pickering, M.J, & Tanaka, M. (2008). Contributions of animacy to grammatical function assignment and word order during production. Lingua, 118, 172-189.
  6. Branigan, H.P., Pickering, M.J, McLean, J.F., & Cleland, A.A. (2007). Participant role and syntactic alignment in dialogue. Cognition, 104, 163-197.

Undergraduate teaching

Teaching: My teaching includes  the 1st year course on Psychology of Language, the 4th year Language Production course and the MSc Dialogue course. My student consultation hours are Wednesday 9-11, or feel free to email me to arrange a time.

Current PhD students supervised

Research summary

language production; dialogue; language development; bilingualism