We learn all the time all sorts of things in our own unique ways. Our learning experiences are different and make us the unique people we are.

The Learning Machines Lab studies learning in humans and in machines from developmental, neurocognitive, computational and educational perspectives.

We are particularly interested in individual differences in learning related to neurodiversity and autism.

We are also interested in cross-linguistic and cross-cultural differences.

The ultimate aim is to apply knowledge from the study of individual differences in learning to education and everyday life.

Our lab is based at the Department of Psychology of Edge Hill University in Ormskirk, UK.



Dr Themis Karaminis

– Senior Lecturer, Head of the Lab –


I am a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Psychology of Edge Hill University, with expertise in individual differences and cognitive development. Before joining Edge Hill, I have worked at Radboud University (Netherlands), the Universities of Plymouth/Oxford, and UCL.
I am a former teacher of ICT in secondary education. My first degree is a BEng/MEng in Computer Engineering/ Informatics (University of Patras, Greece). I switched to psychology in 2007, by pursuing an MSc in Cognitive Science (University opf Edinburgh) and then a PhD in Psychology (Birkbeck, Univerity of London).
I am married with a son (5) and a daughter (2).


My general research interests are in individual differences in cognitive development across lifespan. I have been involved in research projects on the following themes: autism, developmental language disorders, language development, visual perception, spoken-word recognition, bilingualism, second-language learning, cross-linguistic/cross-cultural differences.
In my research, I use behavioural, computational modelling, eyetracking and computational/corpus linguistics methodologies.
I am also interested in promoting the engangement of children into research in psychology and neuroscience.


Dr Louise Lawrence

– Post doctoral research assistant –


I am a newly appointed research assistant with expertise in autism spectrum conditions and in particular, perceptual superiorities in autism, intervention development and evaluation, emotion recognition, face processing and serious gaming.


I have many years’ experience of conducting research with autistic and non-autistic children and is passionate about finding ways to harness autistic strengths to overcome difficulties. I am also particularly interested in exploiting new technologies and serious games for this purpose.


Ms Rebecca Wallwork

– Research assistant –


I am a newly appointed research assistant and a postgraduate student studying autism. I have a keen interest in autism research and the impact of delayed diagnosis. I also have extensive previous experience working in clinical research and research governance.


As an autistic researcher, I have valuable first-hand insights into the experiences of autistic people, with the added experience of being a daughter of a diagnosed parent and a mother to diagnosed children.


Karaminis, T., & Scharenborg, O. (2018). The effects of background noise on native and non-native spoken-word recognition: A computational modelling approach. In Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, Madison, WI, USA.

Croydon, A., Karaminis, T., Neil, L., Burr, D., & Pellicano, E. (2017). The light-from-above prioris intact in autistic children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 161, 113-125, doi:10.1002/aur.1749.

Karaminis, T., Neil, L., Manning, C., Turi, M., Fiorentini, C., Burr, D., & Pellicano, E. (2017). Ensemble perception of emotions in autistic and typical children and adolescents. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 24, 51-62.

Karaminis, T., Lunghi, C., Neil, L., Pellicano, E., Burr, D. (2017). Binocular rivalry in children on the autism spectrum. Autism Research, 10, 1096-1106.

Karaminis, T., Cicchini, M., Neil, L., Cappagli, G., Aagten-Murphy, D., Burr, D., & Pellicano, E. (2016). Central tendency effects in temporal interval reproduction in autism. Scientific Reports, 6:28570.

Manning, C., Kilner, J., Neil, L., Karaminis, T., & Pellicano, L. (2016). Children on the autism spectrum update their behaviour in response to a volatile environment. Developmental Science, 20. doi: 10.1111/desc.12435

Turi, M., Karaminis, T., Pellicano, E, & Burr, D. (2016). No rapid audiovisual recalibration in adults on the autism spectrum. Nature Scientific Reports, 6, 21756.

Neil, L., Cappagli, G., Karaminis, T., Jenkins, R., & Pellicano, L. (2016). Recognising the same faces in different contexts: Testing within-person face recognition in typical development and autism. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 143, 139-153.

Manning, C., Neil, L., Karaminis, T., & Pellicano, L. (2015). The effects of motion grouping on speed discrimination abilities in typically developing children and children with autism. Journal of Vision, 15, 17.

Karaminis, T., Neil, L., Manning, C., Turi, M., Fiorentini, C., Burr, D., & Pellicano, E. (2015). Ensemble perception of emotions in children with autism is similar to typically developing children. Journal of Vision, 15, 916.

Karaminis, T., Turi, M., Neil, L., Badcock, N., Burr, D., & Pellicano, L. (2015). Atypicalities in adaptation in autism do not extent to perceptual causality. PLoS ONE, 10 (3): e0120439.

Karaminis, T. (2015). Causal modelling of developmental disorders: Insights from animal and computational models of Specific Language Impairment. In J. van Herwegen & D. Riby (Eds.) Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Research Challenges and Solutions. (pp. 70-92). Psychology Press.

Karaminis, T., & Thomas, M. S. C. (2015). The relationship between SLI in English and Modern Greek: Insights from computational modelling. In S. Stavrakaki (Ed.) Current Trends in Research on Specific Language Impairment. (pp. 145-174) John Benjamins.

Filippi, R., Karaminis T., & Thomas, M. S. C. (2014). Language switching in bilingual production: empirical data and a computational model. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 2, 294-315.

Thomas, M. S. C., Baughman, F. D., Karaminis, T., & Addyman, C. J. M. (2014). Modelling developmental disorders. In C. Marshall (Ed.), Current Issues in Developmental Disorders (pp. 93-124). London, UK: Psychology Press.

Karaminis, T., & Thomas, M. S. C. (2012) Connectionism. In Seel, Norbert M. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning (pp. 767-771). New York, NY: Springer.

Karaminis, T., & Thomas, M. S. C. (2012). Connectionist Theories of Learning. In Seel, Norbert M. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning (pp. 771-775). New York, NY: Springer.

Thomas, M. S. C., Karaminis, T., & Knowland, V. P. (2010). What is typical language development? Language Learning & Development, 6, 62-169.

Karaminis, T., & Thomas, M. S. C. (2010). A cross-linguistic model of the acquisition of in morphology in English and Modern Greek. In S. Ohlsson & R. Catrambone (Eds.), Proceedings of 32nd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, August 11-14, 2010, Portland, Oregon, USA (pp. 730-735).

Current Research

I predict therefore I am!: The predictive social mind, prior knowledge, and autism.

Funder: Edge Hill University Research Investment Fund (RIF)

This project aims to develop a better understanding of how children make predictions and decision and in their everyday lives – for example, how they predict what some unclear speech means, or what will happen if they press a buzzer. We are particularly interested in how these decisions differ in autistic children compared to children who don’t have autism. We are also interested in whether such differences persist in adulthood.

We make hundrends of predictions and decisions everyday. Differences in these processes, subtle or more apparent, can have a huge impact on the everyday lives of autistic children. Understanding their nature and origin has for a better understanding of autism and its diagnosis and intervention.

The project also aims to maximise children’s positive experiences and learning from their involvement in scientific research. The studies are carried out in the form of fun and engaging neuroscience workshops, which run at selected local schools or at Edge Hill University’s campus (during half-term).

The workshop sessions last approximately two hours, are designed for small groups of 3-4 children. They include child-friendly research experiments and educational and creative activities (for example, building a neuron with junk modelling or 3D printing). Children are working as a group or individually with members of our research team and discover that neuroscience research is very interesting and fun!

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Department of Psychology | Edge Hill University | St Helens Rd | Ormskirk L39 4QP | UK

+44 (0) 1695 657451