Social Cognition

Short CV

Professor Uta Frith DBE, FRS, FBA, FmedSci, ML

University College London Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience,                                                          17 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AZ



  • Vordiplom Experimental Psychology (1964), Universität des Saarlandes, Saarbrücken
  • Diploma in Abnormal Psychology (1966), Institute of Psychiatry, University of London
  • Ph.D. in Psychology (1968), Institute of Psychiatry, University of London.

Posts Held

  • 2007 – 2016 Aarhus University Research Foundation Professor
  • 2006 – Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Development, University College London
  • 1996 – 2006 Professor of Cognitive Development, University College London
  • 1968 – 2006 MRC Scientist

Awards and Honours

  • Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Göteborg (1998), St. Andrews (2000), Palermo (2004), York (2004), Nottingham (2007), Cambridge (2012), Aston (2015), Bath (2016), Lincoln (2018)
  • Elected Fellow of Academia Europaea (1992), British Academy (2001), Academy of Medical Sciences (2001), Royal Society (2005), German National Academy Leopoldina (2009)
  • Elected Foreign Associate National Academy of Sciences US (2012)
  • Elected Foreign Member of Royal Society of Arts and Sciences Göteborg (2008),
  • 2018 Hüttenlocher Award lecture Flux Society of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
  • 2017-18 President of the British Science Association
  • 2014 Jean Nicod Prize CNRS ENS (jointly with Chris Frith)
  • 2014 Fellow Institute for Advanced Studies Central European University Budapest
  • 2013 William James Fellow Lifetime Achievement Award, Association for Psychological Science
  • 2012 Honorary DBE
  • 2010 Mind & Brain Prize, Centre for Cognitive Science Torino University
  • 2009 European Latsis Prize “Brain and Mind” jointly with Chris Frith
  • 2009 BPS Research Board Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2008 Honorary Fellow Newnham College Cambridge
  • 2008 UKRC Women of Outstanding Achievement in SET
  • 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award International Association for Autism Research
  • 2007 Samuel T. Orton Award International Dyslexia Association
  • 2007 Honorary Fellow UCL
  • 2006 Society for Educational Studies Book Prize for “The Learning Brain”                 with SJ Blakemore
  • 2006 Honorary Fellow British Psychological Society
  • 2006 President Experimental Psychology Society
  • 2005 Burghölzli Award, University of Zurich Medical School
  • 2004 Robert Sommer Award, University of Giessen Medical School
  • 2003 Jean Louis Signoret Prize of the Ipsen Foundation for Neuropsychology
  • 1990 The President’s Award of the British Psychological Society


I was born and educated in Germany. I trained in clinical psychology at the University of London’s Institute of Psychiatry and completed my Ph.D. thesis on autism in 1968. From 1968 until 2006 I was a research scientist funded by the Medical Research Council UK and affiliated to UCL. I was a founder member of UCL’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and was deputy director from 1996-2006. In 2006 I became Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Development at UCL and Visiting Professor at the University of Aarhus, Denmark. In my work I developed some of the major and still prevailing cognitive theories of autism and dyslexia and tested these theories at the behavioural and brain systems level. I have published around 250 papers and books, and was listed in 2014 as among the 200 most eminent psychologists of the modern era. In the last few years I have increased my efforts in promoting diversity in science and science communication, including documentaries for BBC’s Horizon.

Academic Service

  • Member of MRC Strategy Group on effects of lead on cognitive development, 1980 – 1982
  • Member of co-ordinating committee of European Science Foundation Network on Literacy, 1990-1994.
  • Member of the MRC Mental Health and Neurosciences Board, 1996-1999.
  • Member of the MRC Strategy Development Group Subgroup on Research into Inflammatory Bowel Disorders and Autism, 1998 – 2002
  • Member of MRC Autism Review group and chair of Psychology and Psychiatry subgroup, 2001 – 2002
  • Member of International Panel of Advisors for Department of Cognitive Studies at Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris, 2002 – 2006
  • Advisory Panel of OECD Network on Learning Science 2003 – 2006
  • Member of the Communications Committee British Academy 2002 –2006
  • Member of UCL Bogue Fellowship Committee, 2002 – 2007
  • Member University of London Academic Trust Funds Committee, 2005 – 2006
  • Editorial board membership (2000-2012): Cognition; Dyslexia; Developmental Psychology; Journal of Cognitive Development; Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Member of Royal Society Panel for University Research Fellowships 2006 – 2010
  • Chair of Royal Society Library Committee 2008 – 2012
  • Member of Royal Society Sectional Committee 8 2009- 2012
  • Chair of British Academy Psychology Section 2008-2011
  • Member of UCL Honorary Degrees committee 2009 –
  • Chair of Royal Society Working Group Impact of Neuroscience on Education 2009-11
  • Trustee of the Sir John Soane Museum 2009-2014
  • Member Academia Europaea Section Committee  Behavioural Sciences 2012 –
  • Chair of jury for Royal Society Prize for Science Books 2013
  • Member Steering Committee AHRC Women in Science Research Network 2012-2014
  • Member of Wellcome Trust Large Arts Grants Committee 2014-16
  • Member of jury for Wellcome Trust Book Prize 2015
  • Member of jury for Klaus J. Jacobs Research Prize, Zürich 2015-
  • Elected Member of Council, Royal Society 2007-08; 2014-17
  • Chair of Royal Society Diversity Committee  2014-18
  • Member of Selection Committee for NAS Troland Award for Psychology and Cognitive Sciences 2016; Atkinson Award Committee 2017

Selected publications


Interacting Minds – A Biological Basis. Frith, CD; Frith, U (1999) Science 286(5445),1692-1695

Dyslexia: Cultural Diversity and Biological Unity. Paulesu E. et al. & Frith, U. (2001) Science, 291, 2165-2167.

The Weak Central Coherence Account: detail focused cognitive style in autism spectrum disorders. Happé, F. & Frith, U. (2006) J Autism Dev Disorders, 36(1), 5-25

Mindblind eyes: an absence of spontaneous Theory of Mind in Asperger Syndrome. Senju, A., Southgate, V., White, S. and Frith, U. (2009) Science 325(5942):883-5

Mechanisms of Social Cognition. Frith, C.D. & Frith, U. (2012) Annu Rev Psychol. 63, 287-313

Why we need cognitive explanations of autism. Frith, U. (2012) Q J Exp Psychol, 65(11):2073-92

Autism and Dyslexia: A glance over 25 years of research. Frith, U. (2013) Perspect Psych Sci


Frith, U. (1980)  Cognitive Processes in Spelling.  London:  Academic Press.

Frith, U. (1989/2003)  Autism: Explaining the Enigma.  Oxford:  Blackwell

Frith, U. (1991)  Autism and Asperger Syndrome.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press

Blakemore, SJ & Frith, U. (2005) The Learning Brain. Lessons for Education

Frith, U. (2008)  A Very Short Introduction to Autism. Oxford: Oxford University Press