We use brain imaging techniques to investigate the human visual system, both in its normal state and in disease and disorder.
The vision group at FMRIB uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look at the structure, function and connectivity of the human visual system. We are interested in the functioning of the visual system in its ‘normal’ state in sighted individuals, the changes that occur in people who have disorders of the visual system such as visual impairment or binocular dysfunction and the effects of damage or disease. In addition to structural and functional MRI scanning, members of the vision group use diffusion-weighted imaging to investigate connectivity patterns within the brain and behavioural testing to determine any changes or differences in visual function.
One aspect of our research involves investigating how the brain determines the function of a specific region of the brain. In the case of blind subjects who are anophthalmic, in whom the eyes never developed, we are interested in how the visual pathway is recruited by other neural functions (Gaelle Coullon). For those who lose visual function later in life, through trauma or a stroke (hemianopia), we have several projects designed to understand the residual function and any re-organisation that occurs to minimise visual deficits (Rebecca Millington, Dr Sara Ajina, Ms Stephanie Larcombe). Recently, in collaboration with Prof. Concetta Morrone and Dr Claudia Lunghi in Pisa, we have started to look at the neurochemical basis of short term visual plasticity in adults using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS).
Dr Betina Ip is investigating how the neurochemistry of the early visual areas interacts with binocular vision. Dr Ivan Alvarez is applying population receptive field (pRF) approaches to multiple areas of neural processing, including contrasting pRFs quantified in different domains, such as motion and depth.
Public engagement in science
We provide workshops and visits for both primary and secondary school pupils. For further details, see our outreach page.
Take Part in Research Projects
Are you interested in how your brain works? Blind volunteers needed for magnetic resonance studies of the brain.
We are always looking for patients with damage to the visual cortex.
Please use contact details above if you are interested in taking part in any of our studies as a control subject.
Professor Kate Watkins, Experimental Psychology
Professor Andrew Parker, DPAG
Dr Kristine Krug, DPAG
Professor Concetta Morrone, University of Pisa
Dr Claudia Lunghi, University of Pisa
Associate Professor James Bourne, Monash University
Professor Ione Fine, University of Washington, Seattle
Professor Gordon Plant, Queen Square, UCL
Professor John Barbur, City University
Dr Denis Schluppeck, Nottingham University
Current Research Projects
How is the brain reorganised in the absence of light?
What determines the nature of residual visual function in hemianopia and can it be boosted with training and electrical stimulation?
Determining the patterns of activity in subjects with binocular deficits.
Sarah Finnegan, DPAG