Neil R Bramley

Neil Bramley

I am a cognitive scientist and a post-doctoral associate in Todd Gureckis' computation and cognition lab at New York University. I study how people learn, represent and reason about the world.

In particular, I explore the idea that internal representations—or "causal mental models"—underlie many of the core cognitive competencies that characterise intelligence. These include the ability to imagine alternatives, simulate the future, predict and explain events and come up with creative solutions to problems. I study how these representations are learned, adapted and recruited in inference. I use a combination of computational and cognitive modelling, and behavioural experiments and games in which humans interact with virtual causal worlds.


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Bramley, N. R., Mayrhofer, R., Gerstenberg, T. & Lagnado, D. A. (submitted). Causal learning from interventions and dynamics in continuous time.

Coenen, A., Bramley, N. R., Ruggeri, A. & Gureckis, T. M. (submitted). Beliefs about sparsity affect causal experimentation.

Schulz, E., Klenske, E. D., Bramley, N. R. & Speekenbrink, M. (submitted). Strategic exploration in human adaptive control.

Bramley, N. R., Gerstenberg, T., Mayrhofer, R. & Lagnado, D. A. (submitted). The role of time in causal learning.


Bramley, N. R., Dayan, P., Griffiths, T. L. & Lagnado, D. A. (2017). Formalizing Neurath's ship: Approximate algorithms for online causal learning. Psychological Review, to appear.
pdf, supplementary materials


Bramley, N. R., Gerstenberg, T. & Tenenbaum, J. B. (2016). Natural Science: Active learning in dynamic physical microworlds. In Papafragou, A., Grodner, D., Mirman, D., & Trueswell, J.C. (Eds.) Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2567 - 2572). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
pdf, supplementary materials

McCormack, T., Bramley, N. R., Frosch, C., Patrick, F. & Lagnado, D. A. (2016). Children's Use of Interventions to Learn Causal Structure. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 141, 1-22.\


Bramley, N. R., Dayan, P. & Lagnado, D. A. (2015). Staying afloat on Neurath's boat: Heuristics for sequential causal learning. In Noelle, D. C. et al (Eds.) Proceedings of the 37th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 262-267). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
pdf, exp 1, exp 2

Bramley, N. R., Lagnado, D. A. & Speekenbrink, M. (2015). Conservative forgetful scholars: How people learn causal structure through interventions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition, Vol 41(3), 708-731.
pdf, exp 1, exp 2, data


Bramley, N. R., Gerstenberg, T. & Lagnado, D. A (2014). The order of things: Inferring causal structure from temporal patterns. In P. Bello, M. Guarini, M. McShane, & B. Scassellati (Eds.), Proceedings of the 36th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 236-242). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
pdf, demo, data


Bramley, N. R. (2017). Constructing the world: Active causal learning in cognition. PhD thesis, Experimental Psychology, UCL, London.
pdf, supplement

Bramley, N. R. (2013). Modelling active causal learning. MRes thesis, Computer science, UCL, London.

Bramley, N. R. (2011). Mechanisms of active causal learning. MSc thesis, Cognitive, Perceptual & Brain Sciences, UCL, London.

Bramley, N. R. (2009). Does physicalism entail panexperientialism? MA thesis, Philosophy, University of Glasgow.


Bramley, N. R., Nelson, J. D., Speekenbrink, M. Crupi, V., Lagnado, D. A. (2014). What should an active causal learner value? Poster presented at The Psychonomic Society Annual Meeting, Long Beach, California, USA.

Bramley, N. R., Lagnado, D. A. & Speekenbrink, M. (2013). Mechanisms of active causal learning. Poster presented at The 35th Annual Meeting of the Cogntive Science Society, Berlin, Germany.

Book reviews

Future-Minded: The Psychology of Agency and Control by Magda Osman.

Talk series

I host NYU ConCats, a semi-weekly informal discussion group for research related to psychology of concepts and categories. Fridays 1:00-2:30pm in Meyer 851, 6 Washington Place, NYU, 10003.

Until recently I hosted the London Judgment and Decision Making (LJDM) group seminar series. Wednesdays 17:00-18:30, 313, 26 Bedford Way, UCL, WC1H 0AP.


Active learning. For PSYCGD04: Knowledge, Learning & Inference, Experimental Psychology, UCL.
2014, 2016

Integrated information theory of consciousness. For PSYCGD01: Philosophy of Cognitive Science, Experimental Psychology, UCL.
2015a, 2015b

Causal learning in an imperfect world. For PSYC1103: Introduction to Psychological Experimentation, Experimental Psychology, UCL.