Dr Megan Freeth

Address
The University of Sheffield
Sheffield S10 2TP, UK
Tel: (+44) 0114 22 26652
Room: 3-7
Email: m.freeth@sheffield.ac.uk

Qualifications

PhD (Nottingham), MSc (Nottingham), BSc (Birmingham)

Research Interests

Social attention in the real world
I am interested in how people attend to the world around them. What grabs attention, and what impact does this have on other aspects of cognition? If we miss key information from our visual environments then our internal construct of the world will be less than optimal. My main interest lies in how people attend to others and use the verbal and non-verbal social cues they generate. I am interested in both how typically developing people attend to this information and how individuals with clinical and sub-clinical traits, such as autism and social anxiety, attend to this information. I use mobile and laboratory based eye-tracking technology to try to understand what guides attention.

The neural basis of social attention
I am interested in how the brain processes social cue information. I am currently using electroencephalography (EEG) equipment to find out how the brain responds during tasks which require participants to use social and non-social cues, such as eye-gaze direction and arrows. Individuals with autism fail to detect the social and communicative salience of others’ eyes and also use eye gaze cues in an atypical manner. This area of work aims to investigate whether the neural basis of these differences can be identified.

The expression of autism in rare genetic syndromes
Autism is an extremely heterogeneous condition. Some of this variability results from genetic heterogeneity. Some rare genetic conditions appear to have an increased prevalence of autism. We are currently investigating the phenotype of growth disorders with a known genetic cause, such as Sotos syndrome, with the aim of improving understanding of both rare genetic conditions and autism.

Please see the Sheffield Autism Research lab (ShARL) page

Teaching

PSY329 Individual Differences (Module Organiser)

PSY103 Psychology at Sheffield

PSY259 Critical Skills for Psychologists

PSY331 Extended essay supervisor

PSY346 Project supervisor

PSY6121 Research Methods

PSY6122 Current Issues in Psychological Research

Administration

Undergraduate senior admissions tutor

Athena SWAN panel member - supporting women in STEMM

Grants and Awards

Baily Thomas research grant (Dec 2016 - June 2017). Why do individuals with Sotos syndrome struggle with maths? £4,707

Experimental Psychology Society Small Grant (April 2015- April 2016). Face to Face Social Attention in Autism. £2,500

Experimental Psychology Society Small Grant (Jan 2013-Jan2014). Gaze following and the broad autism phenotype. £2,500

Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship (Mar 2011-Mar 2013). Social Attention in Autism. £177,351

NCRM Training bursary – to attend EEGlab workshop, San Diego (Nov 2010). £985

Wellcome Trust Value in People award (Oct 2010-Mar 2011). £15,000

ESRC Post Doctoral Fellowship (Sept 2009-Sept 2010). Social Cognition in Typically Developing Individuals and those with Autism Spectrum Disorders using EEG and Eye-tracking Techniques. £72,426

Current research supervision

  • PhD 1st supervisor - Nazli Altin; Chloe Lane; Caroline Treweek; Emma Morgan
  • PhD 2nd supervisor - Aikaterini Giannadou; James Simpson (Landscape)
  • PhD 3rd supervisor - Ciara Kelly; Keelan Meade
  • DClin supervisor
  • Mres supervisor

Media

The Eyes Have it All Elements (science) article featuring my work

Improving public perceptions of autism - Your Autism Magazine Spring 2016 (National Autistic Society)

Publications

A list of key publications can be found below. Or see the full list of publications.

Book chapters

Freeth, M., Milne, E., Sheppard, E., & Ramachandran, R. (2014). Autism across cultures: Perspectives from non-Western cultures and implications for research. In F. Volkmar, R. Paul, K. Pelphry, S. Rogers (Ed.) The Handbook of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders (4th ed.). Wiley

Journal articles