The Hermelin Lecture: Prof. Jamie Ward
The Hermelin Lecture has been established to honour the life and work of the late Professor Beate Hermelin. Professor Hermelin was a pioneer in the experimental study of autism and was regarded by Sir Michael Rutter as “one of the most brilliantly innovative experimental psychologists of the day, as well as one of the most engaging individuals.”
The key symptom of autism is socio-communication difficulties, whereas people with synaesthesia have unusual perceptual experiences (e.g. music eliciting colour) and is not typically defined by impairments: but yet these seemingly very different entities are linked. They co-occur more often than would be expected and the more kinds of synaesthesia a person has then the further along the autism spectrum they are shifted. Our recent research has taken a symptom-level approach to understanding this association. In particular, the conditions are strongly linked by certain perceptual abilities (attention-to-detail) as well as the symptom of atypical sensory sensitivity (e.g. aversion to sounds and lights). Moreover, autistic people with savant skills are more likely to have synaesthesia than other people with autism. This has led us to consider the possibility that domain-specific savant talents are underpinned by more basic cognitive differences (such as those that are found in synaesthesia) and that this goes some way to explain why some people with autism go on to develop these skills whereas others do not.
Jamie Ward is Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Sussex. He has an MA in Natural Sciences from Cambridge and PhD in Psychology from Birmingham, and previously held a faculty position at UCL. He is the Co-Director of Sussex Neuroscience and was Founding Editor of the journal, Cognitive Neuroscience. He has a particular research interest in synaesthesia and, more generally, in the question of how information is integrated between the senses. He also runs the Leverhulme Doctoral Programme in ‘Sensation, Perception and Awareness’ at the University of Sussex. In addition to his research, he is well-known as an author of leading textbooks (Students Guide to Cognitive Neuroscience; Students Guide to Social Neuroscience).
Dates & times
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|28 Mar 2019||
4:00pm - 6:30pm
The lecture will be approximately one hour, followed by a drinks reception
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