Psychology Foundation Year (The Individual and Society, Readings in Modern Society)
Having developed a keen interest for Human development and cognition while training as a History teacher, I did a BSc Psychology degree at the University of Greenwich, which was followed by a MSc Cognitive Neuropsychology at UCL, and finally by a PhD at King’s College London, more specifically at the MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Part of the Institute of Psychiatry.
My PhD consisted of a series of investigations into the association between Autism and talent. More specifically, it involved trying to gain a better understanding of the cognitive factors that may predispose individuals with these conditions to develop skills and talents at such a high prevalence. I have also investigated the aetiology of this association, with results suggesting a marked degree of genetic overlap between Autistic traits and skills and talents.
After completing my PhD I worked as a Lecturer at the University of Lisbon, where I was responsible for developing and delivering a number of subjects, mainly focused on the topics of Biological Psychology and Abnormal Psychology.
Presently I am involved in running the Psychology Foundation Course, on which I am responsible The Individual and Society module, and will also contribute to teaching on a number of undergraduate subjects.
Although I intend to continue my research into the cognitive factors behind the association between Autism and ability, I have developed additional research interests, such as imitation and understanding of action, mechanical skills and autism traits, processing of emotional stimuli, and sensory processing in Autism.
Vital, P., Ronald, A., Wallace, G.L. & Happé, F. (2009). Relationship between special abilities and autistic-like traits in a large population-based sample of 8-year-olds. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50(9), 1093-1101.
Happé, F. & Vital., P. (2009). What aspects of autism predispose to talent? Philosophical Transactions of the London Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 364(1522), 1369-1375.
Maras, P., Brosnan, M., Faulkner, N., Montgomery, T. & Vital, P. (2006). ‘They are out of control’: Self perceptions, risk-taking and cognitive attributional style of adolescents with and without Social Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 11(4), 281-298.