Colin Blakemore was a neuroscientist who contributed to our understanding of vision, and how the brain develops and adapts. Colin was influential in demonstrating ‘neural plasticity’ — how brain cells reorganise themselves in response to the environment after birth and even in adulthood.
By depriving one eye of sight in immature mammals, and then restoring vision to the deprived eye, Colin showed how nerve impulses from the eyes maintain connections into the brain. He went on to unravel the genetic mechanisms that enable nerve cells to regulate their own inputs. His work using brain imaging further emphasised the plasticity of the brain; he showed that formerly visual parts of the cortex ‘light up’ in response to touch in people who have been blind since infancy.
Colin was well known for his passionate belief in the importance of public engagement, particularly around the use of animals in research. He held several influential positions, including head of the Medical Research Council, and received a knighthood in 2014 for services to scientific research, policy and outreach.
Sir Colin Blakemore FMedSci FRS died on 27 June 2022.
Trustee of the Board, The Pilgrim Trust Director, Centre for the Study of the Senses, University of London Former Chief Executive, Medical Research Council (MRC) Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience, Department Of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience, Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford
Interest and expertise
Health and human sciences
Ferrier Medal and Lecture
On 'Plasticity of the brain: the key to human development, cognition and evolution'.
Michael Faraday Prize and Lecture
For his written, broadcast and public presentations on the science of the brain, which are superbly crafted for lay and expert audiences alike.