top of page

Shavranti Shankar (MSc Student)


Shrav was an MSc student working on divisive normalisation in eye gaze processing in adults with autism spectrum disorders. This was an involved project conducted in collaboration with Colin Palmer, who visited us from the University of New South Wales in Sydney. Shrav tested autistic and typical adults on an eye gaze adaptation task, and we then fit computational models of eye-gaze direction cells to the data to assess whether divisive normalisation (a form of local neural gain control) is compromised in ASD. Shrav was awarded a top mark for her project and she co-authored the resulting paper which is now published in Cortex. 

In her spare time Shrav has a talent for origami and she is hoping to start a PhD/RA job in the near future. 

Jan Grohn (MSc Student)

Jan was an MSc student on the ICN Cognitive Neuroscience course and he was jointly supervised by Becky Lawson and Nick Wright, at the University of Birmingham.  Jan was always a superstar, as a BA student studying economics in Germany he published his first paper on game theory. Jan's MSc project used psychophysical and learning models to address whether there are any cross-cultural differences in how spatial and temporal context are used to inform perception. Jan was credited in the Dean's top performing list of students 2015/16 and his MSc research has just been published in Nature Scientific Reports.


Jan is now at the University of Oxford working with Prof. Matthew Rushworth as a PhD student.

Ylva Valden (research assistant)

Ylva was a research assistant in the UCL Awareness Group (2016-2017). Ylva supported recruitment and testing of autistic adults for the studies that Becky Lawson ran through the autism@icn database. She had a special talent for making people feel at ease in the scanner. Before working with us, Ylva completed an MSc at UCL and her research project investigated the effects of MDMA on emotional processing and self-affiliation. Ylva also loves cats. Ylva and Becky mostly chatted about cats.


Ylva is now back in Sweden and studying to be a clinical psychologist. 

Ainslie Johnstone (MSc student)

Ainslie was an MSc student working with Becky Lawson on a project investigating dark adaptation in autism. This was a challenging study in many ways; the experimental setup was extremely fiddly and participants had to endure photopigment bleaching (bright lights), which can be aversive to people with sensory sensitivity. Ainslie met these challenges head on, produced an excellent piece of research and her MSc write up won the UCL ICN Shallice Prize. 

Ainslie is now studying for a PhD, at the University of Oxford where she investigates TDCS and motor learning with Dr. Charlotte Stagg and Prof. Heidi Johansen-Berg.

Mitchel Mantella (MSc student)

Mitch was an MSc student working with Becky Lawson on a project investigating low-level visual processing in autism. In particular Mitch investigated whether spatial context effects (centre-surround suppression) for luminance and orientation are intact in autism. Mitchel was new to psychophysics, but he had a special rapport with the participants in the study and he soon grew to love psychometric functions. 

Mitchel is now studying to be a medical doctor at St George's, University of London. When he's not saving lives he's also an instagram star: @mitchmantella

Jess Alyward (MSc student)

Jess was one of the first MSc students that Becky Lawson had the pleasure of supervising. She investigated social and non-social gain control mechanisms in autism spectrum disorder and both of the experiments she ran have now been published, here and here. Jess has a special social intelligence that made her excellent at working with adults who have social communication difficulties. After working with Becky, Jess went on to a highly successful research assistant role with Oliver Robinson.

Jess is now living in Brighton where she is studying to be a social worker. The world needs more people like Jess and I'm extremely pleased that she'll be supporting vulnerable people in her new career.

bottom of page