It is agonising for a parent, troubling for a clinician, and puzzling for a researcher when a young child seems oblivious to people, is fixated on spinning objects, and shows no sign of communicating. An adult who finds their own inner states opaque, consistently misjudges social situations, and is helpless in the face of any change from preferred routine, is no less of a mystery. When will we understand autism spectrum disorders?
This talk presents a cognitive neuroscience perspective on what might be some of the obstacles standing in the way of major scientific breakthroughs in the science of autism. What we do know, and what we need to know, about individuals with autism spectrum disorders will be discussed.
Francesca Happé is Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the MRC SGDP Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. Her research centres on autism spectrum conditions. As well as cognitive methods, her research involves functional imaging studies, exploration of acquired brain lesions and, most recently, behaviour genetic methods. She is the author of numerous research papers, and a book on autism for general readers. She won the Telegraph’s Young Science Writer award, and has taken part in many documentaries, as well as being the subject of a Channel 4 programme for schools. She was a Royal Institution 'Scientists for the New Century’ Lecturer, and has received the British Psychological Society Spearman Medal, King’s College London Supervisory Excellence Award, and the Experimental Psychology Society Prize.
This Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award and Lecture is awarded annually to support the promotion of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to any area of science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). The recipient of the award is expected to spend a proportion of the grant on implementing a project to raise the profile of women in STEM in their host institution and/or field of expertise in the UK. The award is supported by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.