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 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:

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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.
Dr Neil Bramley Causal cognition, active learning, hypothesis generation, control, judgment and decision making, resource rationality, game theory, optimal teaching, iterated learning, rational analysis, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science.

Professor Holly Branigan

Language production, dialogue, language development, bilingualism.
Dr Nicolas Chevalier Executive function development, cognitive development, developmental cognitive neuroscience.
Professor Martin Corley Production and comprehension of natural language, speech production.
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 Aja Murray Developmental aspects of mental health phenotypes and their comorbidity: in particular, ADHD, autism, and conduct problems; quantitative methodology.
Dr Rene Mottus Personality development in childhood and later life, computational modelling of person-environment transactions, within-individual variability of personality and its associations with situational circumstances and specific behaviours, and psychometrics.
Dr Hugh Rabagliati Language development and processing, with a focus on meaning, cognitive development, psycholinguistics in neurodevelopmental disorders.

Dr Hilary Richardson

Theory of mind; cognitive development; development of functionally specialized brain regions; role of experience in cognitive & brain development

Dr Anne Templeton

My over-arching research interest is applying the social identity approach to intra and intergroup processes. My research primarily focusses on crowd psychology and using principles of group identity to improve crowd safety in emergencies and at mass events.
Dr Matti Wilks Moral psychology & moral development including moral circle expansion, unusually altruistic groups, effective altruism, naturalness bias, and attitudes towards food technology (cultured meat).

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