Professor Pam Heaton

Pam’s primary research interest is in developmental disorders, especially autism and its relation to musical cognition.

Staff details


Emeritus Professor




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Musical cognition, abnormal development, autism, savants

Publications and research outputs


Gali, Olga; Ercan, Sena Beste; Atherton, Gray; Cross, Liam; Sayis, Batuhan; Heaton, Pam F. and Pares, Narcis. 2023. Mediating Interpersonal Synchronization in Children through a Full-Body Mixed Reality System: Analysis of the Pre-Interactive Mandala Experience. PRESENCE: Virtual and Augmented Reality, 32, pp. 35-51. ISSN 1054-7460

Heaton, Pam F.; Ridley, Ellen; Makhmood, Sonya and Riby, Deborah M.. 2020. Hearing the feeling: Auditory emotion perception in Williams syndrome. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 103, 103660. ISSN 0891-4222

Rose, Dawn; Jones Bartoli, Alice and Heaton, Pam F.. 2019. Formal-informal musical learning, sex and musicians' personalities. Personality and Individual Differences, 142, pp. 207-213. ISSN 0191-8869

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.