Professor Francesca Happé FBA

Typical and atypical socio-cognitive development, with particular focus on impairments and assets in autism spectrum disorder

Elected 2014

Fellow type
UK Fellow
Year elected

Francesca Happé is Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and Director of the MRC Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London. She completed her undergraduate degree in Experimental Psychology at Oxford University and her PhD at UCL/MRC Cognitive Development Unit, supervised by Professor Uta Frith. Her research focuses on autism spectrum conditions. She has explored the nature of social understanding in typical development and 'mind-reading' difficulties in autism. She is also actively engaged in studies of abilities and assets in people with autism, and their relation to detail-focused cognitive style. As well as cognitive methods, her research has involved functional imaging studies, exploration of acquired brain lesions, and behaviour genetic analysis. Most recently she has begun studies of under-researched groups including ageing in autism, women with autism, agenesis of the corpus callosum, and children with extreme demand avoidance. She is the author of more than 180 research papers and a book on autism for general readers. She has received the British Psychological Society Spearman Medal, the Experimental Psychology Society Prize, and the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award, and was President of the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) from 2013-2015.

Current post

Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, Director of MRC Social and Head of Department

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