British Oculomotor Group Meeting – Kingston

This week I will be presenting my research on how damage to the prefrontal cortex affects eye movements at the 24th British Oculomotor Group Meeting (BOMG) hosted by the Eye Movements and Cognition Lab at Kingston University.

Whilst at Cambridge University  on Sabbatical in 2009 I was privileged to work with a group of patients with very localised damage affecting the very front of the brain. In most cases this was due to unavoidable collateral damage occurring when a brain tumour had been surgical removed. People with this type of brain injury are often remarkably unaffected by their injury and it can often be quite hard for a psychologist to find tasks that they can’t do perfectly well! But my research found that they made significantly more mistakes when required to switch between rules linking 3 different coloured cues with eye movements towards 3 possible locations (e.g. blue=up, red=left and yellow=right). These videos from my You Tube Eye Movements site show example trials from the task (

MRI scan image





One outstanding question following on from this research is whether this impairment in an artificial computer based task in the psychology lab might have implications for what things people with this type of brain injury can or can’t do in the real world. We often have to make arbitrary connections between what we see and where we look during every day tasks and these patients may find this particularly difficult.

Please feel free to get in touch with me if you are interested in this research for whatever reason and I can tell you more about it.

See also: Research explores rule switching across the life span

Understanding and Improving Functional Vision in Specialist Education

On 25th April I will be speaking at the West of England School and College (WESC) conference on understanding and improving functional vision. I will be giving an overview of my research on the brain systems underlying eye movement control and how they are affected in cases of neurological damage entitled Eye movements, visual attention and the brain.

WESC is a visual impairment specialist school and further education provider in Exeter with an outstanding reputation for excellence and innovation. We are developing an exciting new collaboration to embed visual neuroscience expertise and knowledge in specialist education where to date the emphasis has been upon the role of the eye itself in vision rather than the brain.

Experimental Psychology Society Meeting – Hull 11th-13th April 2012

Two of my former PhD students (Nicola Gregory and Sarah Bate) and ex post-doc (Ben Parris) were among the presenters at this years spring EPS meeting in Hull.

Nicola Gregory’s work described how processing of socio-biological cues is affected following damage to a part of the brain known as the orbitofrontal cortex, while Sarah Bate’s presentation described how people with prosopagnosia (so called “face blindness”) can benefit with treatment using the drug Oxytocin applied using a simple nasal spray. The drug has the effect of making them better at recognising faces they have seen before.

Ben Parris’s work looks at how cognitive function can be influenced through hypnosis. His remarkable results show how the “Stroop effect” (in which people are slower to name the colour of words which spell out another colour e.g. “RED” printed in blue) can be eliminated under certain conditions simply by placing the suggestion in peoples mind that the words are written in an incomprehensible language.

The Conference also included a symposium on associative learning in honour of Geoffrey Hall and an excellent talk on decision making for self and others by University of Lincoln’s own Fenja Ziegla, as well as my own work on rule learning in People with Parkinsons.