Virginia Carter Leno

Wellcome Trust Career Development Award Fellow

Research Interests

My research interests centre around understanding the neurobiological and cognitive mechanisms that drive differences in child development and mental health, with a focus on neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism. My research combines experimental techniques such as electroencephalography and neurocognitive paradigms with statistical models that can handle complex data such as is found in longitudinal cohorts. The overarching idea is to use this approach to model individual differences in development and see what predicts variation in these trajectories. I am also interested in using models of comorbidity to understand the overlap of mental health difficulties and autism, in order to promote positive mental health for autistic youth. 
I am passionate about engaging the wider public with my research, and as such seek to use creative approaches to make science more engaging for non-scientific audiences and accessible to those with lived experience of the research topic in question. See for more information on my most recent engagement project. 


  • 2023-2031: Wellcome Trust Career Development Award. £2,052,013
  • 2021-2023: Wellcome Trust Research Enrichment Award. £99,700
  • 2019-2023: Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship. £300,000
  • 2018-2019: National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre Early Career Bridging & Career Development Grants. £49,705
  • 2017: King's College London Graduate School Conference Fund. £300
  • 2016: Medical Research Council Public Engagement Seed Fund. £700
  • 2015: King's College London Collaborative Innovation Scheme for Early Career Researchers. £1000


Accepted Manuscripts


Moraitopoulou, G.*, Pickard H.*, Simonoff, E., Pickles, A., Bedford, R., Carter Leno, V. (2023). No association between alexithymia and emotion recognition or theory of mind in a sample of adolescents enhanced for autistic traits. Autism. In press.

Narverkar, N.*, Carter Leno, V.* M., Pasco, G., Johnson, M. H., Jones, E. J., Charman, T., & Team, B. (2023). The roles of sensory hyperreactivity and hyporeactivity in understanding infant fearfulness and emerging autistic traits. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. In press.

Bagg, E., Pickard, H., Tan, M., Smith, T.J, Simonoff, E, Pickles, A., Carter Leno, V., Bedford, R. Testing the Social Motivation Theory of Autism: The Role of Co-occurring Anxiety. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. In press.



Carter Leno, V., Begum-Ali, J., Goodwin, A., Mason, L., Pasco, G., Pickles, A., Garg, S., Green, J., Charman, T., Johnson, M. H., Jones, E. J. H., the EDEN & STAARS Teams. (2022). Interactions between Alterations in Infant Excitation/Inhibition Balance and Executive Attention Predict Autistic Traits in Childhood. Molecular Autism. DOI: 10.1186/s13229-022-00526-1

Carter Leno, V.*, Pickard, H.*, Cybulska, L., Smith, T., Munafo, M., Penton-Voak, I., Simonoff, E., Pickles, A., Bedford, R. (2022). Emotion Recognition in Autism and Callous Unemotional Traits: Differential Effects of Cueing to the Eyes. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.13736.

Carter Leno, V., Wright, N., Pickles, A, Bedford, R, Zaidman-Zait, A…, the Pathways in ASD Study Team. (2022). Longitudinal Associations between Preschool Irritability and Adolescent Depression Symptoms in Autistic Children are Mediated by Peer Relationships but Not Educational Engagement. Development and Psychopathology. Accepted/In press.

Palmer, M.*, Carter Leno, V.*, Hallett, V., Mueller, J., Breese, L., Pickles, A., Slonims, V., Scott, S., Charman, T., Simonoff, E. (2022). Effects of a parenting intervention for emotional and behavioral problems in young autistic children under conditions of enhanced uncertainty: Two-year follow-up of a pilot randomized controlled trial cohort (ASTAR) during the UK COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2022.09.436.

Cortese, S., Solmi, M., Michelini, G., Bellato, A., Blanner, C., Canozzi, A., Eudave-Ramos, L., Farhat, L., Højlund, M., Köhler-Forsberg, O., Leffa, D., Rohde, C., Salazar de Pablo, G., Vita, G., Wesselhoeft, R., Martin, J., Baumeister, S., Bozhilova, N., Carlisi, C., Carter Leno, V., Floris, D., Holz, N., Kraaijenvanger, E., Sacu, S., Vainieri, I., Ostuzzi, G., Barbui, C., Correll, C. (2022). Candidate diagnostic biomarkers for neurodevelopmental disorders in children and adolescents: a systematic review. World Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1002/wps.21037.

Hollocks, M.*, Carter Leno, V.*, Chandler, S., White, P., Yorke, I., Pickles, A., Charman, T., Simonoff, E. (2022). Psychiatric Conditions in Autistic Adolescents: Longitudinal Stability from Childhood and Associated Risk Factors. European Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1007/s00787-022-02065-9

Chandler, S., Carter Leno, V., White, P., Yorke, I., Hollocks, M., Pickles, A., Charman, T., Simonoff, E.  (2022). Pathways to Adaptive Functioning in Autism from Early Childhood to Adolescence. Autism Research. DOI: 10.1002/aur.2785.

Carter Leno, V.*, Hollocks, M.*, Chandler, S., White, P., Yorke, I., Pickles, A., Charman, T., Simonoff, E. (2022). Homotypic and Heterotypic Continuity in Psychiatric Symptoms from Childhood to Adolescence in Autistic Youth. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 61(12), 1445-1454. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2022.05.010

Carter Leno, V., Nadia Micali, N., Bryant-Waugh, R., Herle, M. (2022). Associations between childhood autistic traits and adolescent eating disorder behaviours are partially mediated by fussy eating. European Eating Disorders Review. DOI: 10.1002/erv.2902.

Palmer, M., Tarver, J., Carter Leno, V., Paris Perez, J., Frayne, M., Slonims, V., Pickles, A., Scott, S., Charman, T., Simonoff, E. (2022). Parent, Teacher and Observational Reports of Emotional and Behavioral Problems in Young Autistic Children. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-021-05421-x



Narvekar, N.*, Carter Leno, V.*, Pasco, G., Johnson, M.H., Jones, E.J.H., Charman, T., and the BASIS Team. (2021). A Prospective Study of Associations between Early Fearfulness and Perceptual Sensitivity and Later Restricted and Repetitive Behaviours in Infants with Typical and Elevated Likelihood of Autism. Autism. DOI: 10.1177/13623613211068932.

Carter Leno, V.*, Wright, N.*, Pickles, A, Bedford, R, Zaidman-Zait, A…, the Pathways in ASD Study Team. (2021). Exposure to Family Stressful Life Events in Autistic Children: Longitudinal Associations with Mental Health and the Moderating Role of Cognitive Flexibility. Autism, 26(7), 1656-1667. DOI: 10.1177/13623613211061932

Carter Leno, V., Forth, G., Chandler, S., White, P., Yorke, I., Charman, T., Pickles, A., Simonoff, E. (2021). Behavioural and Physiological Response to Frustration in Autistic Youth: Associations with Irritability. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 13(27). DOI: 10.1186/s11689-021-09374-1

Huberty, S., Carter Leno, V., van Noordt, S., Bedford, R., Pickles, A., Desjardins, J., Webb, S.J., Elsabbagh, M. (2021). Association between spectral EEG power and autism risk and diagnosis in early development. Autism Research, 14(7), 1390-1403. DOI: 10.1002/aur.2518



Carter Leno, V., Pickles, A., van Noordt, S., Huberty, S., Desjardins, J., Webb, S.J., Elsabbagh, M. (2021). 12-Month Peak Alpha Frequency is a Correlate But Not a Longitudinal Predictor of Non-Verbal Cognitive Abilities in Infants at Low and High Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 48:100938. DOI: 10.1016/j.dcn.2021.100938

Bedford, R.*, Carter Leno, V.*, Wright, N., Bluett-Duncan, M., Smith, T. J., Anzures, G., Pickles, A., Sharp, H., & Hill, J. (2020). Emotion Recognition Perforimance in Children with Callous Unemotional Traits is Modulated by Co-occurring Autistic Traits. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology. DOI: 10.1080/15374416.2020.1833338.

Carter Leno, V., Chandler, S., White, P., Yorke, I., Charman, T., Pickles, A., Simonoff, E. (2020). Associations between theory of mind and conduct problems in autistic and non-autistic youth. Autism Research. DOI: 10.1002/aur.2346.

Carter Leno, V., Bedford, R., Chandler, S., White, P., Yorke, I., Charman, T., Pickles, A., Simonoff, E. (2020). Callous-unemotional traits in youth with ASD: Replication of prevalence estimates and associations with gaze patterns when viewing fearful faces. Development and Psychopathology, 33(4), 1220-1228. DOI: 10.1017/S0954579420000449.



Carter Leno, V., Chandler, S., White, P., Yorke, I., Charman, T., Pickles, A., Simonoff, E. (2018). Alterations in Electrophysiological Indices of Perceptual Processing are Associated with Co-occurring Emotional and Behavioural Problems in Adolescents with ASD. Molecular Autism, 5, 50; DOI: 10.1186/s13229-018-0236-2

Carter Leno, V.*, Tomlinson, S.B.*, Chang, A.S., Naples A.J., McPartland J.C. (2018). Resting-state alpha power is selectively associated with autistic traits reflecting behavioral rigidity. Scientific Reports, 8, 11982; DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-30445-2.

Carter Leno, V., Vitoratou, S., Kent, R., Charman, T., Chandler, S., Jones, C., Happé, F., Baird, G., Pickles, A., Simonoff, E. (2018). Exploring the Neurocognitive Correlates of Challenging Behaviours in Young People with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism, 1-13; DOI: 10.1177/1362361318769176.



Carter Leno, V., Chandler, S., White, P., Pickles, A., Baird, G., Hobson, C., Smith, A.B., Charman, T., Simonoff, E. (2017). Testing the specificity of executive functioning impairments in adolescents with ADHD, ODD/CD and ASD. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 27(7), 899-908; DOI: 10.1007/s00787-017-1089-5.



Carter Leno, V., Naples, A.J., Cox, A., Rutherford, H., & McPartland, J.C. (2015). Common and distinct modulation of electrophysiological indices of feedback processing by autistic and psychopathic traits. Social Neuroscience, 1-12; DOI:10.1080/17470919.2015.1108223.

Carter Leno V., Charman, T., Jones, C., Happé, F., Baird, G., Pickles, A., & Simonoff, E. (2015). Callous-unemotional traits in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: common but not necessarily associated with antisocial behaviour. British Journal of Psychiatry, 207(5), 392-9; DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.159863.

Milosavljevic B., Carter Leno, V., Simonoff, E., Baird, G., Pickles, A., Jones, C., Erskine, C., Charman, T., Happé, F. (2015). Alexithymia in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Its Relationship to Internalising Difficulties, Sensory Modulation and Social Cognition. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46(4), 1354–1367; DOI: 10.1007/s10803-015-2670-8.


Book Chapters

Carter Leno, V. & Simonoff E. (2020). ASD and Co-occurring Psychiatric Conditions: A Conceptual Framework. In S. W. White, B. B. Maddox, & C. A. Mazefsky (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Autism and Co-occurring Psychiatric Conditions. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.