Professor Chris Frith

Contact details

Professor Chris Frith
MA DipPsych PhD (FRS, FBA, FMedSci)
Position/Fellowship type:
Honorary Research Fellow
Institute of Philosophy
Home institution:
Institute of Philosophy
Institute of Philosophy School of Advanced Study University of London Senate House Malet Street London WC1E 7HU
+44 (0)20 3448 4362
Email address:

Research Summary and Profile

Research interests:
Neuroscience, Philosophy, Social Sciences
Publication Details

Related publications/articles:

Date Details
11-Jun-2022 Reputation matters


Frith, U., Frith, C.D., and Frith, A. 2022. Reputation matters. Psychologist 35, 34-38.

03-Mar-2022 Two Heads: Where Two Neuroscientists Explore How Our Brains Work with Other Brains


Frith, U., Frith, C.D., Frith, A., and Locke, D. 2022. Two Heads: Where Two Neuroscientists Explore How Our Brains Work with Other Brains London: Bloomsbury.

12-Jul-2021 Awareness and confidence in perceptual decision-making

Journal articles

Skewes, J., Frith, C., and Overgaard, M. 2021. Awareness and confidence in perceptual decision-making. Brain Multiphysics, 100030.

12-Apr-2021 Helping the waiter to hold his tray: Rigid haptic linkage promotes inter-personal motor coordination

Journal articles

Ferreiro, D.N., Frith, C.D., and Bahrami, B. 2021. Helping the waiter to hold his tray: Rigid haptic linkage promotes inter-personal motor coordination. QJEP 74, 1784-1790.

15-Jan-2021 Mapping mentalising in the brain


Frith, C.D., and Frith, U. 2020. Mapping mentalising in the brain. In The Neural Bases of Mentalizing ed. K. Ochsner, and M. Gilead. Springer Press.

18-May-2020 Pandemics and the great evolutionary mismatch

Journal articles

Dezecache, G., Frith, C. D. & Deroy, O. (2020). Pandemics and the great evolutionary mismatch. Current Biology 30, R1-R3.

01-May-2020 Knowing Ourselves Together: The Cultural Origins of Metacognition

Journal articles

Heyes, C., Bang, D., Shea, N., Frith, C. D. & Fleming, S. M. (2020). Knowing Ourselves Together: The Cultural Origins of Metacognition. Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

23-Apr-2020 I haven’ta clue!-Expectations based on repetitions and hints facilitate perceptual experience of ambiguous images

Journal articles

Hertz, U., Blakemore, C. & Frith, C. (2020). I haven’ta clue!-Expectations based on repetitions and hints facilitate perceptual experience of ambiguous images. J Exp Psychol:

31-Jul-2018 Volition and the Brain – Revisiting a Classic Experimental Study

Journal articles

in Trends in Neurosciences, Elsevier

25-May-2018 The Predictive Coding Account of Psychosis

Journal articles

in Biological Psychiatry, Elsevier

09-Mar-2018 Hyper- and Hypomentalizing in Patients with First-Episode Schizophrenia

Journal articles

in Schizophrenia Review, Oxford University Press

19-Dec-2017 Neural computations underpinning the strategic management of influence in advice giving

Journal articles

 in Nature Communications, Uri Hertz, Stefano Palminteri, Silvia Brunetti, Cecilie Olesen, Chris D Frith & Bahador Bahrami

02-Oct-2017 Active Inference, Curiosity and Insight

Journal articles

in Neural Computation, Volume 29 Issue 10, MIT Press

11-Aug-2017 Deficits and Pathologies


in Companion to Cogntive Science, Wiley

01-Aug-2017 Making better decisions in groups

Journal articles

Royal Society open science

15-Jul-2015 Active inference, communication and hermeneutics.

Journal articles

Friston, K.J., and C.D. Frith. 2015. Active inference, communication and hermeneutics. Cortex. 68:129-143.

Hermeneutics refers to interpretation and translation of text (typically ancient scriptures) but also applies to verbal and non-verbal communication. In a psychological setting it nicely frames the problem of inferring the intended content of a communication. In this paper, we offer a solution to the problem of neural hermeneutics based upon active inference. In active inference, action fulfils predictions about how we will behave (e.g., predicting we will speak). Crucially, these predictions can be used to predict both self and others - during speaking and listening respectively. Active inference mandates the suppression of prediction errors by updating an internal model that generates predictions - both at fast timescales (through perceptual inference) and slower timescales (through perceptual learning). If two agents adopt the same model, then - in principle - they can predict each other and minimise their mutual prediction errors. Heuristically, this ensures they are singing from the same hymn sheet. This paper builds upon recent work on active inference and communication to illustrate perceptual learning using simulated birdsongs. Our focus here is the neural hermeneutics implicit in learning, where communication facilitates long-term changes in generative models that are trying to predict each other. In other words, communication induces perceptual learning and enables others to (literally) change our minds and vice versa.

01-Jul-2014 Frontal alpha oscillations distinguish leaders from followers: multivariate decoding of mutually interacting brains

Journal articles

Konvalinka, I., M. Bauer, C. Stahlhut, L.K. Hansen, A. Roepstorff, and C.D. Frith. 2014. Frontal alpha oscillations distinguish leaders from followers: multivariate decoding of mutually interacting brains. Neuroimage. 94:79-88.

Successful social interactions rely upon the abilities of two or more people to mutually exchange information in real-time, while simultaneously adapting to one another. The neural basis of social cognition has mostly been investigated in isolated individuals, and more recently using two-person paradigms to quantify the neuronal dynamics underlying social interaction. While several studies have shown the relevance of understanding complementary and mutually adaptive processes, the neural mechanisms underlying such coordinative behavioral patterns during joint action remain largely unknown. Here, we employed a synchronized finger-tapping task while measuring dual-EEG from pairs of human participants who either mutually adjusted to each other in an interactive task or followed a computer metronome. Neurophysiologically, the interactive condition was characterized by a stronger suppression of alpha and low-beta oscillations over motor and frontal areas in contrast to the non-interactive computer condition. A multivariate analysis of two-brain activity to classify interactive versus non-interactive trials revealed asymmetric patterns of the frontal alpha-suppression in each pair, during both task anticipation and execution, such that only one member showed the frontal component. Analysis of the behavioral data showed that this distinction coincided with the leader-follower relationship in 8/9 pairs, with the leaders characterized by the stronger frontal alpha-suppression. This suggests that leaders invest more resources in prospective planning and control. Hence our results show that the spontaneous emergence of leader-follower relationships in dyadic interactions can be predicted from EEG recordings of brain activity prior to and during interaction. Furthermore, this emphasizes the importance of investigating complementarity in joint action.

20-Jun-2014 The cultural evolution of mind reading

Journal articles

 Heyes, C.M., and C.D. Frith. 2014. The cultural evolution of mind reading. Science. 344:1243091.

It is not just a manner of speaking: "Mind reading," or working out what others are thinking and feeling, is markedly similar to print reading. Both of these distinctly human skills recover meaning from signs, depend on dedicated cortical areas, are subject to genetically heritable disorders, show cultural variation around a universal core, and regulate how people behave. But when it comes to development, the evidence is conflicting. Some studies show that, like learning to read print, learning to read minds is a long, hard process that depends on tuition. Others indicate that even very young, nonliterate infants are already capable of mind reading. Here, we propose a resolution to this conflict. We suggest that infants are equipped with neurocognitive mechanisms that yield accurate expectations about behavior ("automatic" or "implicit" mind reading), whereas "explicit" mind reading, like literacy, is a culturally inherited skill; it is passed from one generation to the next by verbal instruction.

14-Apr-2014 Supra-personal cognitive control and metacognition

Journal articles

 Shea, N.J., A. Boldt, D. Bang, N. Yeung, C. Heyes, and C.D. Frith. 2014. Supra-Personal Cognitive Control and Metacognition. Trends Cogn Sci. 18:186-193.

The human mind is extraordinary in its ability not merely to respond to events as they unfold, but to adapt its own operation in pursuit of its agenda. This 'cognitive control' can be achieved through simple interactions among sensorimotor processes, and through interactions in which one sensorimotor process represents a property of another in an implicit, unconscious way. So why does the human mind also represent properties of cognitive processes in an explicit way, enabling us to think and say 'I'm sure' or 'I'm doubtful'? We suggest that 'system 2 metacognition' is for supra-personal cognitive control. It allows metacognitive information to be broadcast, and thereby to coordinate the sensorimotor systems of two or more agents involved in a shared task.

16-Mar-2014 Action, agency and responsibility

Journal articles

 Frith, C.D. 2014. Action, agency and responsibility. Neuropsychologia. 55:137-142.

In a series of experiments Marc Jeannerod revealed that we have very little awareness of the details and causes of our actions. We are, however, vividly aware of being in control of our actions and this gives us a sense of responsibility. These feelings arise, first, from intentional binding which creates a perception of agency, linking an intentional action to its outcome and, second, from the counterfactual reasoning that we could have chosen some other action. These feelings of responsibility play a critical role in creating social cohesion since they allow people to be held to account for deliberate antisocial behaviour. Jeannerod's studies also showed that we are unaware of how little we know about our actions and so are happy to make up stories about the nature and causes of our behaviour. These stories often do not correspond with the underlying cognitive and neural processes, but they can be changed through instructions and through discussion with others. Our experience of responsibility for action emerges during our upbringing through exposure to our culture. This creates consensus about the causes of behaviour, but not necessarily accuracy.

Publications available on SAS-space:

Date Details
Jan-2018 Learning Rapidly about the Relevance of Visual Cues Requires Conscious Awareness


Humans have been shown capable of performing many cognitive tasks using information of which they are not consciously aware. This raises questions about what role consciousness actually plays in cognition. Here, we explored whether participants can learn cue-target contingencies in an attentional learning task when the cues were presented below the level of conscious awareness, and how this differs from learning about conscious cues. Participants’ manual (Experiment 1) and saccadic (Experiment 2) response speeds were influenced by both conscious and unconscious cues. However, participants were only able to adapt to reversals of the cue-target contingencies (Experiment 1) or changes in the reliability of the cues (Experiment 2) when consciously aware of the cues. Therefore, although visual cues can be processed unconsciously, learning about cues over a few trials requires conscious awareness of them. Finally, we discuss implications for cognitive theories of consciousness.

Additional Publications

Relevant Events

Related events:

Date Details
20-Jun-2022 Two Heads: Where two neuroscientists explore how our brains work with other brains

York Festival of Ideas, 20th June 2022. Uta, Chris and Alex Frith and Dan Locke talk about Two Heads: Where two neuroscientists explore how our brains work with other brains

01-Mar-2022 Two heads: A exploration of how our brains work with other brains

Royal Institution, 1st March 2022. Uta Frith, Chris Frith and Alex Frith, and Daniel Locke, Two heads: A exploration of how our brains work with other brains

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