Uta Frith

Image credit Antonio Olmos

Professor Uta Frith, University College London, UK

The new three Rs and what they mean for neuroscientists: reproducibility, replicability and reliability of research

The EMBO Keynote Lecture 

11:50 - 12:50 Tuesday 16th April - The CCD Auditorium

Through her work, Uta Frith - Fellow of The Royal Society, the British Academy and the Academy of Medical Sciences, honorary dame, President of the British Science Association and Emeritus Professor of cognitive development at University College London – has revolutionised the understanding of two major brain disorders, autism and dyslexia.

Until relatively recently, the prevalent belief was that these conditions had a psychogenic origin, arising from emotional or mental stressors. With autism it was common to lay the blame with ‘refrigerator mothers’, where the behaviour and emotional distance of the mother directly led to characteristics of autism. Dyslexia was often put down to laziness or simply being a poor reader.

Uta has worked tirelessly to demonstrate that both conditions are due to fundamental differences in the brain. She proposed the now widely accepted understanding that the brains of people with autism lack abilities in implicit mentalising and central coherence. These deficits lead to difficulties with assessing the mental states of other people, and being able to see the bigger picture. Her work in dyslexia has uncovered how it is linked with difficulties in mapping the sounds of speech to letters of the alphabet.

Alongside her active and successful research career, Uta is highly influential in areas that are relevant across all research topics, especially in the biological sciences. She is a champion for making neuroscience relevant and applicable to teaching and learning, and plays an active role in supporting the advancement of women in science. In recent years Uta has provided a clear voice in the discussion about replicability, reproducibility and reliability of research. Given the vital importance of having replicable, reproducible and reliable scientific findings, and that the current research culture (particularly in biomedical sciences) does not always make this easy to achieve, Uta’s input in this area could be the most influential of all her work to date.

Dame Uta Frith’s plenary lecture "The new three Rs and what they mean for neuroscientists: reproducibility, replicability and reliability of research" will therefore be a highlight of the Festival, something that everyone at the conference will want to hear in order to undertake high quality, reliable research when they return home at the end of the meeting.

See Uta Frith's website

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