a UCL and RFN research study

About the study

Funded by UCL’s Global Engagement Office, this study aims to study how Pakistani children think differently, especially those with autism. This study is in collaboration with University College London (UCL)'s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, alongside many Pakistani clinicians in order to ensure that our findings have a real-world impact.

Pakistan, the 5th most populated country in the world, severely lags behind in psychological research especially on neurodevelopmental conditions like autism. This has led to incorrect information being spread about these conditions, and consequently the stigmatisation of such conditions. Moreover, therapeutic practices in Pakistan are based on research that is conducted in the West, and we don’t know if research from the West would generalise to the Pakistani population, given the vast cultural differences. On the flip side, neurodevelopmental research has also been primarily conducted on western samples, with cross-cultural differences being relatively unexplored.

For this reason, this project investigates how a key cognitive skill develops in Pakistani children, and factors that may affect its development. This research project aims to determine the feasibility of conducting neurodevelopmental research in Pakistan. As such, we hope to lay down an infrastructure that can be utilised by researchers around the world to conduct research in Pakistan and make their research more culturally valid.



  • PI - Dr Sarah White (Developmental Diversity Lab at UCL, UK)

  • Project Lead - Anushay Mazhar (MRes student at UCL, UK; Resources For Neurodiversity, Pakistan)

If you are interested in learning more, you can send Anushay an email at

Notable achievements:

  • This study was present at UCL's first Faculty of Brain Sciences conference (May 2021)

  • The poster was this study was shortlisted (from amongst 500+ submissions) for Harvard's Women in Psychology Conference (November 2021)