Holly Branigan

Head of School

  • Psychology
  • School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

Contact details



Room 7.05, Dugald Stewart Building

3 Charles Street, 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. Castillo, L., Smith, K., & Branigan, H.P. (2019). Interaction promotes the adaptation of referential conventions to the communicative context. Cognitive Science, 43.

  2. Huang, J., Chen, X., Pickering, M.J., Cai, Z., Wang, S., & Branigan, H.P. (2019). Does language similarity affect representational integration? Cognition, 165, 83-90.

  3. Hopkins, Z., Yuill, N., & Branigan, H.P. (2017). Inhibitory control and lexical alignment in children with an autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 58, 1155-1165. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12792

  4. Branigan, H.P., & Pickering, M. J. (2017). An experimental approach to linguistic representation. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40, e282. [Target article]. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X16002028

  5. Branigan, H.P., Tosi, A., & Gillespie-Smith, K. (2016). Spontaneous lexical alignment in children with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder and their typically developing peers. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 42, 1821-1831.

  6. Branigan, H.P., & McLean, J.F. (2016). What children learn from adults: Persistent syntactic priming and an ephemeral lexical boost in children’s dialogue. Journal of Memory and Language, 91, 141-157.


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