Hugh Rabagliati



Language provides a code for learning and teaching new ideas. I study the mental representations and mechanisms that people use to translate concepts and ideas into words and sentences, with a primary focus on how these abilities develop in children. 

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 12, and you should always feel free to come and chat. 

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.

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.


  • I am on research leave at Vanderbilt University in Nashville during the 2019-20 academic year.
  • I am looking to accept at least one PhD student this year, to start in the Autumn of 2020. Topics that I'd be particularly excited to supervise include: studying the psycholinguistics of language production in very young children, fNIRS studies of language processing in infants and toddlers,  polysemy, and meta-science/repicability in developmental psychology.


Recent Publications

See the RabLab website or Research Explorer for links.

  • Rabagliati, H., Ferguson, B., & Lew-Williams, C. (2019).The profile of abstract rule learning in infancy. Meta-analytic and experimental evidence. Developmental Science.

  • Srinivasan, M., Berner, C., & Rabagliati, H. (2019). Children’s use of polysemy to structure new word meanings. Journal of Experimental Psychology (General).

  • Lindsay, L., Gambi, C. & Rabagliati, H. (2019). Preschoolers optimize the timing of their conversational turns through flexible coordination of language comprehension and production. Psychological Science.

  • See Research Explorer for more.


  • Work in the RabLab is generously supported by a joint award from the ESRC & NSF (with Mahesh Srinivasan at UC Berkeley) and a collaborative award from the Newton Trust held by Duygu Ozge (METU, Turkey).  Previous funding has included a Research Project Grant from the Leverhulme Trust (with Martin Pickering) as well as an ESRC FRL grant. We are very grateful for this support.
  • 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 conditions.