Alan M. Leslie

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Alan M. Leslie
ResidenceUnited States
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh
University of Oxford
Known forAutism research
ChildrenSarah-Jane Leslie
Scientific career
InstitutionsRutgers University
Doctoral advisorJerome Bruner

Alan M. Leslie is a Scottish psychologist and Professor of Psychology and Cognitive science at Rutgers University, where he directs the Cognitive Development Laboratory (CDL)[1] and is co-director of the Rutgers University Center for Cognitive Science (RUCCS) along with Ernest Lepore.


Leslie completed his undergraduate degree in Psychology and Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh in 1974 and received his D.Phil. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Oxford in 1979/80.

Academic career[edit]

For a number of years he was a Medical Research Council Senior Scientist at the University of London. He joined the faculty at Rutgers University in 1993. He has also worked as a visiting professor at the Autonomous University of Madrid, the University of Chicago, and the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2005 he gave the XIII Kanizsa Memorial Lecture at the University of Trieste and in 2006 he was the inaugural recipient of the Ann L. Brown Award for Excellence in Developmental Research. In 2008 Dr. Leslie was designated a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science[2] and he was also elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[3]


Leslie was a member of the Cognitive Development Unit (CDU) in London who proposed the theory of mind impairment in autism. In 1985 he published with Simon Baron-Cohen and Uta Frith the famous article Does the autistic child have a "theory of mind"?,[4] in which it was suggested that children with autism have particular difficulties with tasks requiring the child to understand another person's beliefs and desires.

He is interested in the design of the cognitive system early in development. He has contributed a number of influential experimental studies and theoretical ideas on the perception of cause and effect, object tracking, and agent detection in infancy, the developmental role of modularity of mind, and the Theory of Mind Mechanism (ToMM) in the development of social cognition and its impairment in autism.


His daughter, Sarah-Jane Leslie, is Dean of Graduate Studies at Princeton University.[5][6]


  1. ^ Cognitive Development Lab at Rutgers University.
  2. ^ "APS Fellows". Association for Psychological Science.
  3. ^ Members of the American Academy – listed by election year, 2000–2017: Elected in 2008 (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  4. ^ Baron-Cohen, Simon; Leslie, Alan M.; Frith, Uta (October 1985). "Does the autistic child have a "theory of mind"?". Cognition. Elsevier. 21 (1): 37&ndash, 46. doi:10.1016/0010-0277(85)90022-8. PMID 2934210. Pdf.
  5. ^ "Sarah-Jane Leslie". Princeton University. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Sarah-Jane Leslie named dean of the Graduate School". Princeton University Graduate School. 20 November 2017. Retrieved 9 April 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]