Our focus is on language development in atypical circumstances, such as children learning a minority language and children with a language impairment. 



We are currently working on implicit language learning in children with Developmental language Disorder (DLD), investigating their syntactic development during Structural Priming trials. Together with Prof Holly Branigan and Dr Moreno Coco, we have completed a series of experiments using structural priming paradigm in preschool children with DLD and obtaining different long term priming effects compared to typical developing children (Garraffa, Coco & Branigan,2014; Garraffa, Coco & Branigan, 2018) .

We also looked at the modelling language learning in DLDc using Bayesian unsupervised models (Coco, Garraffa, Branigan, 2013). The classification performance of our models demonstrates that we can infer the developmental group of a child very accurately with unsupervised model (same as a Binomial Logistic Classifier) introducing the necessity of modelling learning rates of selected structures.


moreo coco

Moreno Coco

Moreno is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at University of East London. He is interested in the cognitive dynamic supporting language learning. You can look at this personal page here:


Holly Branigan

Holly is Professor of Psychology at The University of Edinburgh. Her main interest are grammatical representations  choices during language production and dialogues.


Garraffa, M., Coco, M. & Branigan, H. (2018). Impaired implicit learning of syntactic structure in children with language impairment: Evidence from structural priming. Autism and Developmental Language Impairment, 3, 1-15.

Garraffa, M. (2017). Grammar as a maturational controlled behaviour: the case of grammatical based intervention structures. Biolinguistics, Special Issue: Celebrating Lenneberg’s Biological Foundations of Language. ISSN 1450 – 3417.

Garraffa, M., Coco, M. & Branigan, H. (2015). Effects of immediate and cumulative syntactic experience in language impairment: Evidence from priming of subject relatives in children with SLI. Language Learning and Development, 11 (1), 18-40.

Coco, M. Garraffa, M. & Branighan, H. (2013). COGSCI Conference – Sapporo, Japan 2013 – (with Moreno Coco and Holly Branigan) A Bayesian Analysis of Subject Relative Production in SLI Children during Syntactic Priming and Sentence Repetition. From quantification to prediction.


2019 12th International conference on Health and Rehabilitation. UK academic referent for Language Rehabilitation section, (21-22th August Malaysia)

2018 Grammatical skills in children with developmental language disorder: The contribution of Linguistic Theory. Invited colloquium Micollac, 14-16 August, Melacca Malaysia.

2017 Invited Lecture Series on Discovering Linguistics- Linguistics Discovery. Mechanisms of language learning in children with developmental language disorder. University of Ghent. Belgium