Developmental science

Focussing on the mechanisms by which nature and nurture combine in human learning and development, including ageing

We examine how different developmental factors interact across the lifespan, from before birth into adolescence and old age. We are a diverse but well-integrated set of researchers, with expertise in cognitive, linguistic and social development, differential psychology and genetics, and computational modelling.

Our research projects have implications for a wide range of developmental issues, from philosophical questions about the nature of learning and the mind, to more practical issues such as predicting and improving educational attainment, and understanding neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and specific language impairment.

Our work on ageing is underpinned by the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (CCACE), which provides world-leading resources for research into healthy ageing.

Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (CCACE)


Our work is supported by excellent research facilities.

Testing rooms in our newly-built "Wee Science" Developmental Lab include multiple eye trackers for use with both infants and older children.

The department's EEG/ERP facilities and its motion-tracking device are both suitable for use with infants and children of all ages.

Our differential work uses massive twin study datasets, and computational modelling is facilitated by Edinburgh's superb computing cluster.

Labs and facilities at the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

Wee Science Lab


Staff working in this area include:

  Research interests
Dr Bonnie Auyeung Early child development (social and cognitive development), developmental disorders, Autism, ADHD , epilepsy, neural development, sex differences, early deprivation, prenatal development, adolescent development.
Professor Timothy Bates Genetics, cognitive epidemiology, cognitive potential, personality, group behaviour, dyslexia, language impairment.
Professor Holly Branigan

Language production, dialogue, language development, bilingualism.

Dr Nicolas Chevalier

Executive function development, cognitive development, developmental cognitive neuroscience

Dr Martin Corley

Production and comprehension of natural language, speech production.

Dr Morag Donaldson

Language development and language impairment in children.

Dr Leonidas Doumas

Analogy, relational reasoning, mental representation, cognitive development, computational modelling, neural networks.

Professor Wendy Johnson

Individual differences, intelligence and personality, lifespan development of intelligence and personality, health and ageing, genetic and environmental influences on behaviour, intelligence, and personality.

Dr Candice Morey

Working memory, attention, and their development across the lifespan.

Dr Hugh Rabagliati Language development and processing, with a focus on meaning, cognitive development, psycholinguistics in neurodevelopmental disorders.

Postgraduate study

PhD and MSc by Research programmes

Meetings and events

If you are interested in language development, you may want to look at the developmental linguistics seminars.

Developmental linguistics seminars

If you are interested in ageing, you may want to look at the cognitive ageing journal club.

Cognitive ageing journal club