Personal profile

Research interests

Professor Brosnan was awarded a personal Chair in November 2016 and he is Director of the Centre for Applied Autism Research (CAAR). He is a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society (BPS) and a member of the Cognitive Psychology Section and the Division of Neuropsychology.

Professor Brosnan's research focusses upon supporting reasoning and learning. A particular focus is developing digital technologies to support children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families. The Developing and Delivering Digital Interventions (3DBI) project is funded by the Leverhulme Trust (2014-2018; with Drs Johnson, Constantin and Smith). This project involves both children with ASD and their parents in the design of iPad-based support for Social Stories to reduce behaviours that are perceived to be challenging. Professor. Brosnan has worked with an interdisciplinary team (Drs Johnson, Ashwin, Benton, Grawemeyer) who developed protocols for participatory design, to enable children with ASD to actively participate within the design of technology (termed ‘participatory design’). This has informed a series of design principles that have guided the development of a mathematics tutor – designed by people with ASD for people with ASD. This research was top-rated at the EPSRC panel that funded the project. [More details »].

The principles of participatory design have been extended to a new IOS and Android app ‘ASC me I.T.’, which enables the autistic community to contribute to the very first stages of the design process (EPSRC/IAA funded). It simply asks the question ‘If there was one new technology to help people with autism, what would it be?’ Professor Brosnan is also a member of the ESRC-funded Digitals Bubbles seminar series which focuses on why and how technologies are being developed, applied and evaluated for people with autism, (2014-2016, with Drs. Parsons, Yuill and Good). Providing support for the autistic community to select the most appropriate technology to meet their needs is the basis of a European SMART-ASD project funded by ERASMUS+ (2015-2017).

In addition, Professor Brosnan’s theoretical work focusses upon exploring application of the proposed dichotomy between rapid, automatic cognitive processing and slower, effortful cognitive processing to ASD and other disorders. Finally Professor Brosnan runs the annual Bath Autism Summer School (with Drs Ashwin and Russell), which provides a 3 day, residential taster session, for potential students with ASD who are contemplating going to university.

Research interests

  • Participatory design with children with ASD
  • Developing technology to support learning in ASD
  • Reasoning in ASD and other disorders


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Willing to supervise doctoral students

Professor Brosnan is happy to supervise Masters (MRes) and Doctoral (PhD) students on projects within his research interests.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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