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Uta Frith FRS FBA (born May 25, 1941) is a leading developmental psychologist working at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London. She has pioneered much of the current research in autism and dyslexia, and has written several books on these issues. Her most well known book is 'Autism: Explaining the Enigma' which provides an introduction to the cognitive neuroscience of autism. She has been influential to the work of Simon Baron-Cohen and Tony Attwood, both of whom worked under her as PhD students.


Birth and education

Uta Frith was born on 25 May 1941 in Germany. Her birth name was Uta Aurnhammer. She completed her undergraduate degree in History of Art at the Universität des Saarlandes, Saarbrücken but then changed direction to work in Psychology. She trained in clinical psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London and went on to complete her Ph.D. on autism in 1968.[1]

Work on Autism

Frith's work initiated the current representation of a theory of mind deficit in autism. Her paper Does the autistic child have a 'theory of mind'? proposes that people with autism have specific difficulties understanding other people's beliefs and desires. This study was conducted with Simon Baron-Cohen who was a PhD student with Frith at the time.

She has also suggested that individuals with autism have 'weak central coherence', and are better than typical individuals at processing details but worse at integrating information from many different sources.[2]

Frith has also commented favorably--and with a certain amount of awe--regarding the work of Temple Grandin, PhD on National Public Radio's Independent Minds: Temple Grandin, broadcast January 14, 2010. Grandin is a well-known austistic who developed the Squeeze or Hug Machine to calm autistic persons experiencing high anxiety and panic attacks.

Personal life

Professor Frith is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Fellow of the British Academy, a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and an Honorary Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge.

Her husband Chris Frith is also a leading neuroscientist.


Dr. Frith's published works include:

  • Autism: Explaining the Enigma, Oxford, Blackwell Publishing 2003 ISBN 06-31-22901-9
  • Autism - Mind and Brain, Oxford, Oxford University Press 2004 ISBN 01-98-52924-4
  • Autism and Asperger syndrome, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press 1991 ISBN 05-21-38608-X
  • The Learning Brain: Lessons for Education (with Sarah-Jayne Blakemore), Oxford, Blackwell Publishing 2005 ISBN 14-05-12401-6
  • Urville (with Gilles Trehin), London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2006 ISBN 18-43-10419-9
  • Cognitive Processes in Spelling, London, Academic Press 1983 ISBN 01-22-68662-4
  • Autism in History: The Case of Hugh Blair of Borgue (with Rab Houston), Oxford, Blackwell Publishing 2000 ISBN 06-31-22088-7
  • " Autism: A very short Introduction", Oxford, OUP 2008, ISBN 978–0–19–920756–5. This is available for reading for free online, or a free download (create a user profile), via

External links


  1. ^ Bishop DVM (2008). "Forty years on: Uta Frith's contribution to research on autism and dyslexia, 1966–2006". Q J Exp Psychol 61 (1): 16–26. doi:10.1080/17470210701508665. PMID 18038335. PMC 2409181.  
  2. ^ Happé F, Frith U (2006). "The weak coherence account: detail-focused cognitive style in autism spectrum disorders". J Autism Dev Disord 36 (1): 5–25. doi:10.1007/s10803-005-0039-0. PMID 16450045.  


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