Scheme: University Research Fellowship
Organisation: University of Oxford
Dates: Apr 2014-Jun 2017
Summary: The visual system dominates our perception, and a large proportion of the brain is dedicated to converting the array of light reaching our eyes to the rich, colourful world that we perceive. My research focuses on the reorganisation that occurs in the brain when the visual regions are damaged or when the eyes cannot provide input to the brain.
In one project I have been studying a group of people who were born without eyes, known as anophthalmic. Since these people have never had eyes, it is possible to determine how adaptable the human brain is; to what extent can other brain functions take over the visual areas and is this reflected in improved abilities?
While damage to the eyes can cause total blindness, damage to the primary visual cortex, the brain area receiving input from the eyes, causes patients to be blind on one side of the visual world. This means they are unable to drive and may have difficulty getting around independently. However, even within blind regions, many of these patients can still detect some visual information, such as the direction of a moving image. This residual vision is believed to be due to visual connections that are not within the damaged region. A major aim of my research programme is to try to boost this remaining visual using a combination of visual training and electrical stimulation.
Dates: Oct 2008-Apr 2014
Scheme: Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship
Dates: Oct 2004-Oct 2008