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Professor Pam Heaton BSc PhD

Staff details

PositionProfessor of Psychology
Department Psychology
Email p.heaton (@gold.ac.uk)
Phone+44 (0)20 7919 7883

Musical cognition, abnormal development, autism, savants

Research Interests

My primary research interest is in developmental disorders, especially autism.  Since completing my PhD on musical cognition in autism in 1999, I have been a principal researcher or research group leader on EU and ESRC grant applications investigating remediation of sensory abnormalities, pitch and colour discrimination and memory, and colour categorisation in autism.

Before studying psychology I trained as a classical singer and retain a strong interest in the cognitive neuropsychology of music. In particular I am interested in how musical information processing distinguishes atypical and typically developing children and adolescents.  My current interests mainly focus on investigating the relationship between speech and music perception in autism, SLI, Down syndrome and typical development.

Original Research Articles in Peer Reviewed Journals.

Heaton, P., Hermelin, B. and Pring, L. (1998). Autism and pitch processing: a precursor for savant musical ability? Music Perception, 15 (3), 291 – 305.

Heaton, P., Pring, L. and Hermelin, B. (1999). A Pseudo-savant: a case of exceptional musical splinter skills. Neurocase,  5 (6), 503 – 509.

Heaton, P., Hermelin, B. and Pring, L. (1999). Can children with autistic spectrum disorders perceive affect in music? An experimental investigation. Psychological Medicine, 29, 1405 – 1410

Hermelin, B., Pring, L., Buhler, M., Wolff, S. and Heaton, P. (1999). A visually impaired savant artist: interacting perceptual and memory representations. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 40 (7), 1129 – 1139.

Valentine, T. and Heaton, P. (1999). An evaluation of the fairness of police line-ups and video identifications. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 13, 59 – 72.

Heaton, P., Pring, L. and Hermelin, B. (2001). Musical processing in high functioning children with autism. In: the Biological Foundations of Music. Annals of theNew York Academy of Sciences, Vol. 930, New York.

Heaton, P.  (2003). Pitch memory, labeling and disembedding in autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 44, (4), 543 – 551.

Heaton, P. and Wallace, G. (2004) Annotation: The savant syndrome. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 45 (5), 899 – 911.

Heaton, P. (2005) Interval and contour processing in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 35, (6), 787 – 793.

Ludlow, A., Wilkins, A. and Heaton, P. ( 2006)  The effect of coloured overlays on reading ability in children with Autism Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 36, (4), 507 – 516.

Heaton, P., Williams, K. & Cummins, O. & Happé, F. (2007).  Beyond perception: musical representation and on-line processing in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorder, 37, (7), 1355 – 1360.

Heato n, P., Ludlow, A. & Roberson. D. (2007). When less is more: poor discrimination but good colour memory in Autism. Research into Autism Spectrum Disorders, 2, (1), 147 – 156.

Jarvinen - Pasley A. & Heaton, P. (2007). Evidence for reduced domain-specificity in auditory processing in autism. Developmental Science, 10(6), 786-793.

Järvinen-Pasley, A.M., Pasley, J. & Heaton, P. (2008).  Is the linguistic content of speech less salient than its perceptual features?  Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38, 239 – 248.

Järvinen-Pasley, A.M., Wallace, G.L. Ramus, F., Happe, F. & Heaton, P. (2008). Enhanced perceptual processing of speech in autism. Developmental Science, 11, (1), 109 – 121.

Heaton, P., Williams, K., Cummins, O. & Happé, F., (2008). Autism and pitch processing splinter skills: a group and sub-group analysis. Autism, 12, (1), 21 – 37.

Heaton, P., Allen, R., Williams, K. & Cummins, O. & Happé, F., (2008). Do social and cognitive deficits curtail musical understanding? Evidence from Autism and Down syndrome. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 26, 171 – 182.

Heaton, P., Davis, R., & Happe, F. (2008). Exceptional Absolute Pitch Perception for spoken words in an able adult with autism. Neuropsychologia. 46, 2095–2098

Ludlow, A.K., Wilkins, A.J. & Heaton, P. (2008).  Colored overlays enhance visual perceptual performance in children with autism spectrum disorders.  Research into Autism Spectrum Disorders,  2, (3),498 – 515.

Järvinen-Pasley, A., Peppé, S., King-Smith, G. & Heaton, P. (2008). The relationship between form and function level receptive prosodic abilities in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38, (7), 1328 – 40.

Heaton, P., Hudry, K., Ludlow, A. & Hill, E. (2008). Superior pitch processing is unrelated to verbal ability in autism spectrum disorders. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 25 (6), 771 – 782.

Allen, R., Hill, E. & Heaton, P. (2009) “Hath charms to soothe” : An exploratory study of music in autism. Autism, 13, (1), 21 – 41.

Bhatara, A., Quintin, E., Fombonne, E., Heaton, P. & Levitin, D. (2009).The Effects of Music on Social Attribution in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Child Neuropsychology, 13; 1 – 22.

Heaton, P. (2009). Assessing musical skills in autistic children who are not savants. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 364, 1443-1447.

O’Brien, J., Tsermentseli, S., Cummins, O., Happe, F., Heaton, P. & Spencer, J. (2009). Discriminating Children with Autism from Children with Learning Difficulties with an Adaptation of the Short Sensory Profile.  Early Child Development and Care, 179, 4, 383-394.

Heaton, P. & Allen, R. (2009) “With concord of sweet sounds’: new perspectives on the diversity of musical experience in autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions”. The Neurosciences of Music 111: Disorders and Plasticity.  Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1169:318-325.

Allen, R., Hill, E. & Heaton, P. (2009). The subjective experience of music in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The Neurosciences of Music 111.  Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1169: 331.

 

Publications

Article

Mapping the Developmental Trajectory and Correlates of Enhanced Pitch Perception on Speech Processing in Adults with ASD
Mayer, Jennifer L.; Hannent, Ian and Heaton, Pam F.. 2014. Mapping the Developmental Trajectory and Correlates of Enhanced Pitch Perception on Speech Processing in Adults with ASD. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, ISSN 0162-3257

Intact brain processing of musical emotions in autism spectrum disorder, but more cognitive load and arousal in happy vs. sad music
Gebauer, Line; Skewes, Joshua; Westphael, Gitte; Heaton, Pam F. and Vuust, Peter. 2014. Intact brain processing of musical emotions in autism spectrum disorder, but more cognitive load and arousal in happy vs. sad music. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 8, pp. 1-10. ISSN 1662-4548

Investigating eye movement patterns, language, and social ability in children with autism spectrum disorder
Stagg, Steven; Linnell, Karina J and Heaton, Pam F.. 2014. Investigating eye movement patterns, language, and social ability in children with autism spectrum disorder. Development and Psychopathology, 26(2), pp. 529-537. ISSN 0954-5794

Age and sensory processing abnormalities predict declines in encoding and recall of temporally manipulated speech in high-functioning adults with ASD
Mayer, J. L. and Heaton, Pam F.. 2014. Age and sensory processing abnormalities predict declines in encoding and recall of temporally manipulated speech in high-functioning adults with ASD. Autism Research, 7(1), pp. 40-49. ISSN 19393792

Color Obsessions and Phobias in Autism Spectrum Disorders: the Case of J.G.
Ludlow, A.; Heaton, Pam F.; Hill, Elisabeth L. and Franklin, A.. 2014. Color Obsessions and Phobias in Autism Spectrum Disorders: the Case of J.G. Neurocase, 20(3), pp. 296-306. ISSN 1355-4794

Do Children With Autism Re-Enact Object Movements Rather Than Imitate Demonstrator Actions?
Custance, Deborah M.; Mayer, Jennifer L.; Kumar, Emmelianna; Hill, Elisabeth L. and Heaton, Pam F.. 2013. Do Children With Autism Re-Enact Object Movements Rather Than Imitate Demonstrator Actions? Autism Research, 7(1), pp. 28-39. ISSN 1939-3792

Is talent in autism spectrum disorders associated with a specific cognitive and behavioural phenotype?
Heaton, Pam F. and Bennett, Emily. 2012. Is talent in autism spectrum disorders associated with a specific cognitive and behavioural phenotype? Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42(12), pp. 2739-2753. ISSN 0162-3257

Measuring the effects of alexithymia on perception of emotional vocalisations in Autistic Spectrum Disorder and typical development
Heaton, Pam F.; Reichenbacher, Lisa; Sauter, Disa; Allen, Rory; Scott, Sophie K. and Hill, Elisabeth L.. 2012. Measuring the effects of alexithymia on perception of emotional vocalisations in Autistic Spectrum Disorder and typical development. Psychological Medicine, 42(11), pp. 2453-2459.

Autism, music, and the therapeutic potential of music in alexithymia
Allen, Rory and Heaton, Pam F.. 2010. Autism, music, and the therapeutic potential of music in alexithymia. Music Perception, 27(4), pp. 251-261. ISSN 0730-7829

Do social and cognitive deficits curtail musical understanding? Evidence from autism and Down syndrome
Heaton, Pam F.; Allen, Rory; Williams, Kerry; Cummins, Omar and Happe, Francesca. 2010. Do social and cognitive deficits curtail musical understanding? Evidence from autism and Down syndrome. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 26(2), pp. 171-182. ISSN 0261510X

The Subjective Experience of Music in Autism Spectrum Disorder
Allen, Rory; Hill, Elisabeth L. and Heaton, Pam F.. 2009. The Subjective Experience of Music in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1169(1), pp. 326-331. ISSN 00778923

`Hath charms to soothe . . .': An exploratory study of how high-functioning adults with ASD experience music
Allen, Rory; Hill, Elisabeth L. and Heaton, Pam F.. 2009. `Hath charms to soothe . . .': An exploratory study of how high-functioning adults with ASD experience music. Autism, 13(1), pp. 21-41. ISSN 1362-3613

Bhatara, A., Quintin, E., Fombonne, E., Heaton, P. & Levitin, D. (2009).The Effects of Music on Social Attribution in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Child Neuropsychology, 13; 1 – 22.
Bhatara, Anjali; Quintin, Eve-Marie; Heaton, Pam F.; Fombonne, Eric and Levitin, Daniel. 2009. Bhatara, A., Quintin, E., Fombonne, E., Heaton, P. & Levitin, D. (2009).The Effects of Music on Social Attribution in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Child Neuropsychology, 13; 1 – 22. Child Neuropsychology, 15(4), pp. 375-396. ISSN 0929-7049

Discriminating children with autism from children with learning difficulties with an adaptation of the Short Sensory Profile
O'Brien, Justin; Tsermentseli, Stella; Cummins, Omar; Happe, Francesca; Heaton, Pam F. and Spencer, Janine. 2009. Discriminating children with autism from children with learning difficulties with an adaptation of the Short Sensory Profile. Early Child Development and Care, 179(4), pp. 383-394. ISSN 0300-4430

The Effect of Music on Social Attribution in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Bhatara, Anjali; Quintin, Eve-Marie; Heaton, Pam F.; Fombonne, Eric and Levitin, Daniel. 2009. The Effect of Music on Social Attribution in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Child Neuropsychology, 15(4), pp. 375-396. ISSN 0929-7049

Assessing musical skills in autistic children who are not savants
Heaton, Pam F.. 2009. Assessing musical skills in autistic children who are not savants. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 364(1522), pp. 1443-1447. ISSN 0962-8436

“With Concord of Sweet Sounds…”
Heaton, Pam F. and Allen, Rory. 2009. “With Concord of Sweet Sounds…”. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1169(1), pp. 318-325. ISSN 00778923

Enhanced perceptual processing of speech in autism
Järvinen-Pasley, Anna; Wallace, Gregory L.; Ramus, Franck; Happe, Francesca and Heaton, Pam F.. 2008. Enhanced perceptual processing of speech in autism. Developmental Science, 11(1), pp. 109-121. ISSN 1363-755X

Superior discrimination of speech pitch and its relationship to verbal ability in autism spectrum disorders
Heaton, Pam F.; Hudry, K.; Ludlow, A. and Hill, Elisabeth L.. 2008. Superior discrimination of speech pitch and its relationship to verbal ability in autism spectrum disorders. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 25, pp. 771-782.

The Relationship between Form and Function Level Receptive Prosodic Abilities in Autism
Järvinen-Pasley, Anna; Peppé, Susan; King-Smith, Gavin and Heaton, Pam F.. 2008. The Relationship between Form and Function Level Receptive Prosodic Abilities in Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38(7), pp. 1328-1340. ISSN 0162-3257

Is the Linguistic Content of Speech Less Salient than its Perceptual Features in Autism?
Järvinen-Pasley, Anna; Pasley, John and Heaton, Pam F.. 2008. Is the Linguistic Content of Speech Less Salient than its Perceptual Features in Autism? Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38(2), pp. 239-248. ISSN 0162-3257

Colored overlays enhance visual perceptual performance in children with autism spectrum disorders
Ludlow, Amanda; Wilkins, Arnold J. and Heaton, Pam F.. 2008. Colored overlays enhance visual perceptual performance in children with autism spectrum disorders. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 2(3), pp. 498-515. ISSN 17509467

Heaton, P., Davis, R., & Happe, F. (2008). Exceptional Absolute Pitch Perception for spoken words in an able adult with autism. Neuropsychologia. 46, 2095–2098
Heaton, Pam F.; Davis, Robert and Happe, F.. 2008. Heaton, P., Davis, R., & Happe, F. (2008). Exceptional Absolute Pitch Perception for spoken words in an able adult with autism. Neuropsychologia. 46, 2095–2098. Neuropsychologia, 46(7), pp. 2095-2098. ISSN 0028-3932

When less is more: Poor discrimination but good colour memory in autism
Heaton, Pam F.; Ludlow, Amanda and Roberson, Debi. 2008. When less is more: Poor discrimination but good colour memory in autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 2(1), pp. 147-156. ISSN 17509467

Autism and pitch processing splinter skills: A group and subgroup analysis
Heaton, Pam F.; Williams, Kerry; Cummins, Omar and Happe, Francesca. 2008. Autism and pitch processing splinter skills: A group and subgroup analysis. Autism, 12(2), pp. 203-219. ISSN 1362-3613

Research note: Exceptional absolute pitch perception for spoken words in an able adult with autism
Heaton, Pam F.; Davis, Robert E. and Happe, Francesca. 2008. Research note: Exceptional absolute pitch perception for spoken words in an able adult with autism. Neuropsychologia, 46(7), pp. 2095-2098. ISSN 00283932

Beyond perception: musical representation and on-line processing in autism
Heaton, Pam F.; Cummins, O.; Happe, F. and Williams, K.. 2007. Beyond perception: musical representation and on-line processing in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37(7), pp. 1355-1360. ISSN 01623257

Evidence for reduced domain-specificity in auditory processing in autism
Järvinen-Pasley, Anna and Heaton, Pam F.. 2007. Evidence for reduced domain-specificity in auditory processing in autism. Developmental Science, 10(6), pp. 786-793. ISSN 1363-755X

The Effect of Coloured Overlays on Reading Ability in Children with Autism
Ludlow, Amanda; Wilkins, Arnold J. and Heaton, Pam F.. 2006. The Effect of Coloured Overlays on Reading Ability in Children with Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36(4), pp. 507-516. ISSN 0162-3257

Musical Processing in High Functioning Children with Autism
Heaton, Pam F.; Pring, Linda and Hermelin, Beate. 2006. Musical Processing in High Functioning Children with Autism. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 930(1), pp. 443-444. ISSN 00778923

Interval and contour processing in autism
Heaton, Pam F.. 2005. Interval and contour processing in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 35(6), pp. 787-793. ISSN 01623257

Annotation: The savant syndrome
Heaton, Pam F. and Wallace, G.. 2004. Annotation: The savant syndrome. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45(5), pp. 899-911. ISSN 00219630

Pitch memory, labeling and disembedding in autism
Heaton, Pam F.. 2003. Pitch memory, labeling and disembedding in autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 44(4), pp. 543-551. ISSN 00219630

Can children with autistic spectrum disorders perceive affect in music? An experimental investigation
Heaton, Pam F.; Hermelin, Beate and Pring, Linda. 1999. Can children with autistic spectrum disorders perceive affect in music? An experimental investigation. Psychological Medicine, pp. 1405-1410.

A pseudo-savant: A case of exceptional musical splinter skills
Heaton, Pam F.; Pring, Linda and Hermelin, Beate. 1999. A pseudo-savant: A case of exceptional musical splinter skills. Neurocase, 5(6), pp. 503-509. ISSN 1355-4794

A Visually Impaired Savant Artist: Interacting Perceptual and Memory Representations
Hermelin, Beate; Pring, Linda; Buhler, Michael; Wolff, Sula and Heaton, Pam F.. 1999. A Visually Impaired Savant Artist: Interacting Perceptual and Memory Representations. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 40(7), pp. 1129-1139. ISSN 0021-9630

An evaluation of the fairness of police line-ups and video identifications
Valentine, Tim and Heaton, Pam F.. 1999. An evaluation of the fairness of police line-ups and video identifications. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 13(S1), S59-S72. ISSN 08884080

Autism and pitch processing: a precursor for savant musical ability?
Heaton, Pam F.; Hermelin, Beate and Pring, Linda. 1998. Autism and pitch processing: a precursor for savant musical ability? Music Perception, 15(3), pp. 291-305. ISSN 0730-7829