Dr Megan Freeth

Dr Megan Freeth

Department of Psychology,
The University of Sheffield,
Floor G, Cathedral Court,
1 Vicar Lane, Sheffield, 
S1 2LT, UK
Tel: (+44) 0114 22 26652
Email: m.freeth@sheffield.ac.uk


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, Russell-Silver syndrome, Weaver syndrome and Tatton-Brown Rahman syndrome with the aim of improving understanding of both rare genetic conditions and autism.

Please see the Sheffield Autism Research lab (ShARL) page


PSY345 Atypical Brain Development and Degeneration (Module Organiser)

PSY1002 Cognitive Psychology I

PSY233 Cognitive Psychology II

PSY331 Extended essay supervisor

PSY346 Project supervisor

PSY6121 Research Methods


Psychology department Director of Recruitment

Grants and Awards

The Children's Hospital Charity (Sheffield Children's Hospital) and The University of Sheffield (May 2019 - October 2020). Sensory profiles in genetic syndromes associated with autism £32,112

Baily Thomas research grant (July 2017 - April 2019). Cognition and Behaviour in Weaver syndrome and Tatton-Brown Rahman syndrome £53,718

Child Growth Foundation (September 2017 - August 2018). Characteristics of Autism in Russell-Silver Syndrome £8,370

Baily Thomas research grant (Dec 2016 - Nov 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 postdoctoral researchers

  • Dr Chloe Lane - Sensory profiles in genetic conditions associated with autism

Current research supervision

  • PhD primary supervisor - Nazli Altin; Emma Morgan
  • PhD co-supervisor - Aikaterini Giannadou
  • DClin supervisor - Amber-Sophie Dugdale; Rosie Wilson
  • MSc supervisor

Previous research supervision

  • PhD primary supervisor - Chloe Lane; Caroline Treweek 
  • PhD co-supervisor - James Simpson; Ciara Kelly; Keelan Meade; Tom Hostler; Stephanie Dunn
  • DClin supervisor - Alex Leedham


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

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


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

Book chapters

Lane, C., & Freeth, M. (2019). Sotos syndrome. In O. Binda (Ed.) Chromatin Signalling and Neurological Disorders. Elsevier. pp. 219-234.

Lane, C. & Freeth, M. (2017). Sotos syndrome and ASD. In F. R. Volkmar (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Springer, New York

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


  • Lane C & Freeth M (2019) Sotos syndrome, Chromatin Signaling and Neurological Disorders (pp. 219-234). Elsevier RIS download Bibtex download

Conference proceedings papers

  • Dunn S, Freeth M & Milne E (2015) ERP evidence of reduced spatial selectivity in those with high levels of self-reported autistic traits. PERCEPTION, Vol. 44 (pp 294-295) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Freeth M & Vablas A (2015) Temporal dynamics of social attention in face-to-face situations. PERCEPTION, Vol. 44 (pp 78-79) View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download