Sarune Savickaite

PhD candidate

Dr David Simmons



Elliot Millington

PhD candidate

Research Interests

Sarune Savickaite is a PhD candidate at the School of Psychology, University of Glasgow, funded by ESRC/SGSSS. Sarune started her Masters in Research Methods of Psychological Science in September 2018. Sarune previously completed BSc Hons in Psychology at the University of St Andrews.


Sarune’s current research project is titled ‘Using VR technology to understand inner world of autism’. Other research interests include depth perception and stereopsis, art and aesthetics, perception and cognition.


Sarune also has BA HONS Illustration from the university of bedfordshire. She still sometimes works as an illustrator and graphic designer.




Research Interests

I have spent most of my academic career researching visual perception. After obtaining a first degree in Physics from Imperial College, London, I was inspired by doing my final-year project on visual search with the late Keith Ruddock. My early graduate work (D.Phil. thesis, University Laboratory of Physiology and St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford) was on stereo vision, combined with aspects of basic spatial vision like contrast sensitivity, working mainly with Mike Hawken but also Andrew Parker, and Sir Colin Blakemore. I subsequently worked on visual texture and curvature perception (with David Foster) at Keele University, and then the combination of colour and stereo vision (with Fred Kingdom) at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

Since returning to the UK in 1995, my research interests have broadened considerably to include visual aesthetics (especially the link between colour and emotion), visual appearance (in particular how best to characterize post-surgical facial scarring), synaesthesia and, my current main focus, perception in Autism. 

This latter interest has resulted in work on “sub-group” committees of the Scottish Government’s Scottish Strategy for Autism, contributing in particular to their Menu of Interventions advisory work for the charity Scottish Autism as part of their Centre for Practice Innovation, previous work on the editorial board of the journals Perception/i-Perception and current work on the editorial board of The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. I also frequently give presentations to a broad range of audiences on sensory and perceptual aspects of autism.



Research Interests

I have studied at the University of Glasgow since 2015 when I started my undergraduate degree in Psychology. I started my PhD in September 2020 exploring how sensory processing difficulties and anxiety interact with each other over the short and long term.

I am also interested in researching how longer-term anxiety is behaviourally expressed in autism, especially the use of video games as a coping mechanism. My other research interests are related to psychometrics, specifically modelling the underlying structures of autism and effectively understanding the experiences of children.

Website    Twitter

2019-2020 PGT students

Demi Young // Project title:

Margo Parker // Project title: The influence of personality on attentional processing style

Elliot Millington // Project title: A Cultural Comparison between Models of Heterogeneity of Autistic Traits and Sensory Sensitivities


2019-2020 Undergraduate Project students

Kimberley MacNaughton // Project title: Using VR to investigate indvidual differences in visual processing and executive functioning

Elisa Gaillard // Project title: Using VR to investigate indvidual differences in visual processing and executive functioning

Hanan Khalaf // Project title: The utilisation of VR to validate the Frith-Happe animations in relation to empathetic responses and autistic traits

Jo Amaya // Project title: Using VR to investigate individual differences in visual processing and executive functioning

Emily Smith // Project title: The qualitative study exploring the utilisation of VR to validate the Frith-Happe animations

Holly McMahon // Project title:Thank you for the Music – or Not Music preferences and their relationship with sensory sensitivities in school-age children and a validation of the Children’s Glasgow Sensory Questionnaire

2018-2019 PGT students

Alycia Quick // Project title: Virtual Reality animacy perception task: a pilot study

Elliot Millington // Project title: It’s all fun and games: building a motivational profile of autistic gamers

2018-2019 Undergraduate Project students

Claire Morrison // Project title: The relationship between autism and ADHD traits and performance on the Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure task in a student population

Kaori Takeda Molina // Project title: Motion aftereffect and autism



Prof Frank Pollick (School of Psychology, University of Glasgow) Details

Dr Neil McDonnell (School of Philosophy, University of Glasgow) Details

Dr Jonathan Delafield-Butt (University of Strathclyde) Details

Dr Ken Aitken (University of St Andrews) Details




Dr Kirsty Ainsworth (PhD 2017) // Project title: Facial expression recognition and the autism spectrum (thesis online)

Dr Ashley Robertson (PhD 2012) // Project title: Sensory experiences of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and autistic traits: a mixed methods approach (thesis online)

Dr Lisa O’Kane (PhD 2006) 

Dr Rebecca Champion (PhD 2003) 


Associated Alumni

Dr Lawrie McKay(PhD)

Dr Anja Moos (PhD 2013)

Dr Carolyn Salimun (PhD)

Dr Hanan Makki Zakari (PhD 2019)



Summer Students / Volunteers

Lola Leving (volunteer) // Project title: Using Virtual Reality to understand inner perceptual world of autism (ongoing PhD project)

William Quickenbush (summer student) // Project title: Using Virtual Reality to understand inner perceptual world of autism (ongoing PhD project)