Uta Frith is a developmental psychologist with a special interest in autism and dyslexia. When Uta began her research, people believed these conditions were of ‘psychogenic’ origin. She therefore set out to link them to the brain and behaviour, changing the mainstream view of these brain disorders along the way.
She developed two of the main theories to explain the core symptoms of autism: ‘lack of implicit mentalising’ and ‘weak central coherence’. Implicit mentalising is the automatic ability to predict behaviour from moment to moment on the basis of mental states such as beliefs and desires. Weak central coherence could be a reason why autistic people excel at focusing on fine detail but fail to see the bigger picture, thus giving rise to some special talents.
Uta has been chair of the Diversity Committee from 2015-2018 and has helped to create materials to explain and combat unconscious bias. She is keen to widen public engagement with cognitive neuroscience and presented a number of BBC Horizon programmes with this aim in mind.
Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Development, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London (UCL)
Interest and expertise
History of science
Anatomy, physiology and neurosciences
Health and human sciences
Autism, Dyslexia, Social Cognition, Science Communication, History