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Language in the Blind

Language organisation in the brain deprived of visual input

In collaboration with Dr. Holly Bridge (FMRIB), we study congenitally blind individuals to establish the differences in brain organisation for auditory and language processing in relation to the timing and amount of light or retinal input to the visual system.

Gaelle Coullon, a DPhil student at FMRIB, is supervised by Kate and Holly, and is interested in cortical and subcortical reorganisation of function after long-term (congenital blindness) and short-term visual deprivation (blindfolding).  Together we have studied a small group of patients with bilateral congenital anophthalmia, a condition in which the eye fails to develop and, consequently, the brain receives no stimulation from the retina.  We have examined both the structural and functional brain organisation in these individuals using MRI scans.  


Watkins KE, Shakespeare TJ, O'Donoghue MC, Alexander I, Ragge N, Cowey A & Bridge H (2013) Early Auditory Processing in Area V5/MT+ of the Congenitally Blind Brain. The Journal of Neuroscience, 33(46): 18242-18246.

Bridge H, Ragge N, Jenkinson N, Cowey A & Watkins KE (2012) The fate of the oculomotor system in clinical bilateral anophthalmia.  Visual Neuroscience 29 (3): 193-202.

Watkins KE, Cowey A, Alexander I, Fillipini N, Kennedy J, Smith S, Ragge N and Bridge H (2012) Language networks in anophthalmia: maintained hierarchy of processing in ‘visual’ cortex. Brain 135(5): 1566 - 1577.

Bridge H, Cowey A, Ragge N, Watkins KE (2009) Imaging studies in congenital anophthalmia reveal preservation of brain architecture in ‘visual’ cortex. Brain 132(12):3467-3480.