Hugh Rabagliati

Chancellor's Fellow


Language provides a code for learning and teaching new and complex ideas. I study the mental representations and mechanisms that we use to translate from concepts and ideas to words and sentences. My focus is on how these abilities develop, how they operate in typical adults, and how they break down in neurodevelopmental disorders, particularly schizophrenia and autism. I have been at Edinburgh since 2013. I was previously a postdoc at Harvard, a PhD student at New York University, and an undergraduate at Oxford.

I supervise postgraduate and undergraduate students on a range of topics related to the above interests. For undergraduates, I teach the Developmental Psychology component of Psychology 1, a 3rd year option on the Development of Language, Literacy and Communication, and also lecture on Introduction to Cognitive Science. My regular student office hours are Tuesdays at 10, and you should feel free to come and chat, but it is best to send an email a day or so before to confirm (just in case). 

If you are a parent interested in learning more about our child development research, you might want to check out the Wee Science website. For students/researchers, the RabLab website has further details on current research programs, as well as publications. If you are interested in conducting research in the lab -- as a student or volunteer research assistant -- please email me. Twitter-types can also follow me.

Note that a full list of publications can be found on the RabLab website or Edinburgh Research Explorer. I am (gradually) trying to move anonymized data and analysis scripts to GitHub, providing public access.


Selected Publications

  • Rabagliati, H. & Robertson, A. (in press). How do children learn to avoid referential ambiguity? Insights from eyetracking. Journal of Memory and Language [pdf]

  • Gambi, C., Pickering, M.J., & Rabagliati, H.(in press). Beyond associations: Sensitivity to structure in preschoolers' predictionsCognition [pdf]

  • Hahn, N., Snedeker, J. & Rabagliati, H. (2015). Rapid linguistic ambiguity resolution in young children with autism spectrum disorder: Eye tracking evidence for the limits of weak central coherence. Autism Research [pdf]
  • Srinivasan, M. & Rabagliati, H. (2015). How concepts and conventions structure the lexicon: Cross-linguistic evidence from polysemy. Lingua. [pdf]
  • Rabagliati, H. & Snedeker, J. (2013). The truth about chickens and bats: Ambiguity avoidance distinguishes types of polysemy. Psychological Science, 24, 1354-1360. [pdf]
  • Rabagliati, H., Marcus, G.F., & Pylkkänen, L. (2010). Shifting senses in lexical semantic development. Cognition, 117(1), 17-37. [pdf]
  • Dikker, S., Rabagliati, H., & Pylkkänen, L. (2009). Sensitivity to Syntax in Visual Cortex. Cognition, 110(3), 293-321 [pdf]
  • See Research Explorer for more.


  • Work in the RabLab is generously supported by a Future Research Leaders award from the ESRC, a joint ESRC-NSF standard grant (with Mahesh Srinivasan), and a Research Project Grant from the Leverhulme Trust (with Martin Pickering). These awards support three wonderful post docs and research assistants: Chiara Gambi, Barbora Skarabela, and Hanna Järvinen.
  • Wee Science is committed to increasing its public engagement, through talks and events with both practioners and the general public. Please get in contact if you would like to arrange for someone to talk about the science of child development at your school, nursery, or other group.
  • See Research Explorer for more.

Research summary

Language development and processing, with a particular focus on meaning. Cognitive Development. Psycholinguistics in neurodevelopmental disorders.