Professor Rebecca Charlton

Staff details

Professor Rebecca Charlton


Professor and co-Head of Department




r.charlton (

Rebecca is a Professor in Psychology at Goldsmiths.

Prof Charlton's research focuses on changes in later-life and the factors that promote healthy ageing. Her research examines cognition, social-cognitionand mood in later-life. Her work also examines how ageing effects autistic and other neurodiverse people in terms of health, cognition and well-being. Rebecca works with charity partners to examine the factors that promote well-being in ageing and individuals with dementia. She leads the GoldAge Lab.

Academic qualifications

  • PhD in Psychology as it pertains to Medicine 2006

Teaching and supervision

Prof Charlton supervises projects examining cognitive and emotional changes in later life, and projects exploring the experiences of autistic adults.
Prof Charlton contributes to teaching undergraduate Biological Psychology and Developmental Psychology and postgraduate lectures on ageing and dementia.

Research interests

Rebecca’s research interests relate to factors that change in ageing and how understanding these factors can help promote healthy ageing. Her work investigates how cognition and social-cognition (especially understanding others) changes as we age; the risk factors for developing depression in later-life and the factors that may protect against depression; and how ageing impacts autistic adults. She is a member of the Cognition and Neuroscience Group and the Forensic and Clinical Science Group, as well as leading the GoldAge Lab Key areas of interest are listed below.

Ageing and age-related disorders Stroke and Vascular Dementia The effect of vascular damage in the brain on cognition and mood Associations between ill-health and cognition Late-life depression / Subclinical low mood in older adults Depression across the lifespan Neuroimaging Ageing in Autism Spectrum Disorder Using art and music to promote well-being in ageing and dementia

Grants and awards

2020: Autism - Understanding Developmental trajectories, and Inequalities in diagnosis and Treatment in adults aged 50 and over (AUDIT-50).
Dunhill Medical Trust Research Grant

2021: Health and Social Care Needs of Older Autistic People
Autistica NIHR Development Awards

2023: Ensuring the Voices of Under-represented Groups (neurodivergent people and working class men) are Heard in Civic Society
Goldsmiths Civic Catalyst Grant

2023: CO-designing Autism Social worker Training (COAST Study)
This NIHR-funded project will co-design training for social workers by working with autistic older people, social workers and social care providers.

Publications and research outputs

Book Section

Geurts, Hilde M; Charlton, Rebecca A and Bishop, Lauren. 2021. Ageing when being Autistic. In: Michelle Putnam and Christine Bigby, eds. Handbook on Ageing with Disability. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 148-157. ISBN 9781138611498


Chen, Yixin; Jenkins, Christine A.; Charlton, Rebecca A; Happé, Francesca; Mandy, Will and Stewart, Gavin R.. 2024. “Utterly Overwhelming” – A Mixed-Methods Exploration of Sensory Processing Differences and Mental Health Experiences in Middle-aged and Older Autistic Adults. Autism in Adulthood, ISSN 2573-9581

O'Nions, Elizabeth; Brown, Jude; Buckman, Joshua E J; Charlton, Rebecca A; Cooper, Claudia; El Baou, Céline; Happe, Francesca; Hoare, Sarah; Lewer, Dan; Manthorpe, Jill; McKechnie, Douglas G.J.; Saunders, Rob; Mandy, Will and Stott, Joshua. 2024. Diagnosis of common health conditions among autistic adults in the UK: evidence from a matched cohort study. The Lancet Regional Health - Europe, 41, 100907. ISSN 2666-7762

Stewart, Gavin R.; Luedecke, Emily; Mandy, Will; Charlton, Rebecca A and Happe, Francesca. 2024. Experiences of social isolation and loneliness in middle-aged and older autistic adults. Neurodiversity, ISSN 2754-6330

Professional projects

NIHR Funded Research Study
The COAST Study is an NIHR-funded project to co-design training for social workers so enable them to better work with autistic older people. We are working with autistic people (aged over 50), social workers, and social care providers to review existing training and design and evaluate new training resources.

Media engagements

2018: Understanding other gets worse with but is related to cognitive difficulties
Interview with BBC Radio London

2019: MRI technique predicts 5-year dementia risk in cerebral small vessel disease
Interview with Cardiology Today

2019: One image, one prediction: MRI may foretell cognitive decline after stroke
Interview with Physics World

2021: Interview about “It feels like holding back something you need to say”: Autistic & Non-Autistic Adults experiences of sensory experiences and stimming
Live streamed online interview with the London Autism Group

2022: Ageing and Autism
Live streamed online lecture for the Asperger London Area Group