What can vision tell us about brain development? Professor Oliver Braddick of Oxford University and Professor Janette Atkinson of University College London (UCL) will discuss how measures of visual development can provide a window into brain development at the Ian P. Howard Lecture in Vision Science Friday.
The lecture will take place May 4 at 2pm in the Robert McEwen Auditorium, W141 Seymour Schulich Building, Keele campus. A wine and cheese reception will follow the talk.
Right: A five-month-old infant wearing a high-density geodesic net for recording visual brain responses in global form and motion processing
Work in the field of vision science has shown that the emergence of visual cortical functions, including the global processing of motion and form that is characteristic of extra-striate visual areas, happens within the first months of an infant’s life.
Since vision is one of the earliest functions to develop in infancy, measures of visual development can provide a window into the more general development of the human brain, both typical and atypical.
Braddick and Atkinson, two of the most influential names in the development of vision, will present findings on the delays and anomalies of visual and visuo-cognitive function in children at risk from perinatal brain damage and from genetic problems, such as Williams Syndrome. This work has led to the idea of “dorsal stream vulnerability”, which is reflected in a range neurodevelopmental disorders, as well as in areas of cognitive development, including attention, spatial cognition and visuo-motor control.
Both professors gained their PhDs at the University of Cambridge, where they developed work on the psychophysics of binocular vision and motion perception (Braddick) and pattern processing (Atkinson).
Triggered by the birth of their first child, they decided to apply their expertise to the development of vision in infancy. They set up the Visual Development Unit in Cambridge, which pioneered work on many aspects of infant vision, including contrast sensitivity, measurement of infants’ focusing and refraction, emergence of visual cortical function (binocularity, orientation and direction selectivity) and global form and motion processing.
They then moved to London when they were appointed to chairs at UCL and later established a branch in Oxford after Braddick became head of experimental psychology there in 2001.
As well as establishing many of the landmarks in the development of the human visual brain, they have applied their discoveries and techniques to a range of problems in pediatric ophthalmology and neurology. These include a large-scale refractive screening program to detect infants at risk of strabismus and amblyopia, and the use of tests of visual cortical function to identify at-risk babies following premature birth and perinatal brain damage. Work with clinical populations, including Williams Syndrome, has led them to propose the influential idea of “dorsal stream vulnerability”.
Atkinson’s is also the author of The Developing Visual Brain (Oxford University Press, 2002), which has become a classic in the field.
Braddick and Atkinson have been elected Fellows of the United Kingdom’s Academy of Medical Sciences. In addition, they are members of the Academia Europea, and in 2009, they received the Koffka Medal of Giessen University in Germany.
The Ian P. Howard Lecture Series in Vision Science is sponsored by York’s Centre for Vision Research.
For more information, contact Teresa Manini at email@example.com.