Senior Clinical Lecturer
After graduating from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in Medicine in 1988, I worked in the UK and Australia, before taking some time out to study behavioural ecology. I have always been interested in the evolutionary processes that shaped the human mind, and my research career commenced collaborating with Andrew Whiten in St Andrews, who pioneered the study of social learning in non-human primates. Our first joint publication was a paper (now widely cited) linking imitation and ‘theory of mind’ problems in autism to impaired ‘mirror neuron’ functioning. In 2000, I was appointed to my current post as a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist in Aberdeen, with my time divided between research and clinical practice. The latter involves trying to help young people with the most severe and intractable mental health problems (particularly autism) from across the region. In my research, I seek better routes to implement our rapidly expanding knowledge of neuroscience to improve children’s mental health. In recent years I have become especially interested in the assessment of neurodevelopment within epidemiological contexts.
Autism; imitation, social learning, action, emotional communication and development.