Neil Bramley

Reader in Cognitive Psychology

  • Psychology Department
  • School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
  • College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Contact details



Room S40, Psychology Building

7 George Square, Edinburgh
Post code



I am interested in higher level cognition, particularly how people represent the world and think about its alternatives, plus how they use these abilities to plan, imagine, explain, blame and solve problems. I generally use interactive online experiments and games combined with computational modelling to investigate these issues.


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PhD Experimental Psychology; MRes Computer Science; MSc Cognitive & Decision Sciences; MA (Hons) Philosophy

Responsibilities & affiliations

Currently Director of Data and Open Research for School of Philosophy, Psychology & Language Sciences (2023-2026)

Previously Marketing Officer for Psychology Department (2019-2022)

Undergraduate teaching

I teach PSYL10160 Causal Cognition ( and taking two Psychology General Tutorials.



Postgraduate teaching

I teach INFR11210 Seminar in Cognitive Modelling (

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I am keen to supervise MSc and PhD students interested in cognitive science related topics

Current PhD students supervised

PhD primary

  • Tianwei Gong (fully funded by PPLS, expected 2023)

  • Stephanie Droop (fully funded by CDT in NLP, expected 2025)

  • Nicolas Navarre (fully funded by CDT in NLP, expect 2027)

PhD secondary

  • Simon Valentin (fully funded by ILCC, expected 2024)
  • Ella Markham (fully funded by NLP CDT, expected 2026)
  • Fahd Yasin (expected 2025)

PhD tertiary

  • Yuan Meng (Berkeley, graduated 2022)
  • Victor Btesh (UCL, expected 2025)
  • Susanne Haridi (Mac Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen, expected 2025)
  • Naomi Steer (Glasgow University Creative Writing Dept, expected 2026) [Consultant on ML / AI issues]

Past PhD students supervised

PhD primary

  • Jan-Philipp Fränken (fully funded by Studienstiftung, graduated 2022 -> Postdoc at Stanford with Noah Goodman, Tobi Gerstenberg & Chelsea Finn)

  • Bonan Zhao (fully funded by CAHSS, graduated 2023 -> Postdoc at Princeton with Tom Griffiths & Nadia Vélez)

Research summary

Computational cognitive science. The goal of my research is to better understand the algorithms, processes and representations that underpin human intelligence. I generally approach this by developing computational theories of human learning representation and control, designing challenging and interactive tasks that distill elements of the challenges faced by natural cognition (see Demos) and having people and my models attempt to solve them. By comparing the behaviour of models to that of people, I try to gain insight into the mechanisms that people use to to solve problems and adapt their behaviour. As well as helping to understand human intelligence, insights from my research inform the development of artificial systems capable of learning and behaving in more flexible and human-like ways.

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 (see Research)

Research activities

View all 34 activities on Research Explorer

Current project grants

EPSRC New Investigator Grant investigating Computational Constructivism: The Algorithmic Basis of Discovery

View all 54 publications on Research Explorer