Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience


Back of the Brain (BoB) study

Project Description

The Back of the Brain project (BoB) is concerned with visual and cognitive deficits following stroke to posterior brain areas. This is a large, collaborative project, with key partners at University of Copenhagen and University of Cambridge. The aim of the project is to move beyond simple correlations between selective deficits in visual recognition (like pure alexia and prosopagnosia) and the corresponding lesions, and take a broader perspective on the deficits seen following strokes affecting the back of the brain. Follow us! 

Funding body

Sapere Aude - DFF Starting Grant from the Danish Council for Indpendent Research


The study aims to shed new light on the processes and cerebral architecture underlying visual recognition of faces and words. Some of the core research questions:

  • Do face and word processing rely on processes that are largely independent or highly distributed and shared?
  • What is the relationship between deficits in object, word or face processing and lower – level and intermediate visual perceptual deficits?
  • Is there a relationship between premorbid reading skills and type and severity of alexia and prosopagnosia following stroke?
  • How do visual field defects affect higher–level visual perception?
  • How are visual recognition and semantics related?
  • Can reading be spared after a lesion in the left fusiform gyrus and can face recognition be spared after a lesion in the right fusiform gyrus?

Design and Methods

Over 50 control participants and 60 participants with strokes affecting the back of the brain completed a battery of neuropsychological tests relating to the visual processing of words, faces and objects. Participants completed three types of neuroimaging scan:

  1. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan  to provide details of the areas of brain affected by the stroke
  2. Functional MRI scan to investigate face and word processing
  3. Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) scan to look at white matter tracts

The data from this study will be analysed in two ways:

  1. Data from the whole sample will be analysed using multivariate techniques to look for large scale patterns across the population
  2. Research questions relating to sub populations within the sample (e.g. those with a face processing impairment) will using case series methodology.


This is the largest neuropsychological group study of patients with posterior cerebral artery territory strokes.

This provides a unique opportunity to shed light on word, face and object processing.

It is hoped that by understanding more about the visual processing of people with strokes affecting the back of the brain we will be able to better inform and treat future patients with these types of stroke.

Project members

Prof. Alex Leff (Chief Investigator)

Prof. Randi Starrfelt

Prof. Mathew Lambon-Ralph

Dr Grace Rice

Dr Sheila Kerry

Dr Ro Robotham  

Date commenced

Sept. 2015

Expected date of completion

Data collection: Dec. 2018

Project: Sept. 2019