Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience


Visual Communication

Visual Communication group investigates different modes of visual communication. The group is led by Prof Mairéad MacSweeney.

Visual communication research

Humans communicate not only through auditory speech, but also through vision. Visual routes to communication include reading, visual speech (lipreading), gesture and, for those who are deaf, sign language. Our research uses both behavioural and neuroimaging approaches to further our understanding of these modes of visual communication.

In particular our work involves research with people who are born deaf.  Exploring the brains of individuals with altered sensory and language experience offers unique insights into the limits of neural plasticity and the cognitive and neurobiological conditions under which language develops. Our research addresses a fundamental issue in cognitive science: how does experience shape language and the brain?

In addition to informing our basic understanding of brain development and the neurobiology of language, aspects of our research will also ultimately inform intervention strategies for children born profoundly deaf both in terms of education and cochlear implant programmes. The Visual Communication Research Group is also part of the UCL Deafness, Cognition and Language Research Centre, where Kearsy Cormier is Director.


Mairéad MacSweeney

Group Leader



+44 20 7679 1157


Group Members

Independent Research Fellows

Carly Anderson

Carly Anderson

I am interested in how deafness and visual speech (lipreading) shape visual attention and social cognition (e.g., face processing). I use electroencephalography (EEG), functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and behavioural measures to examine how the brain adapts after cochlear implantation in deaf adults and children, and how sound and vision are used together to support communication.

Post-doctoral Research Fellows

Tyron Woolfe

Tyron Woolfe Smiling At The Camera


Reading research has focused on mappings between auditory representations of spoken language and written words. However, this is a limited view of language. Visual spoken language input (visual speech/ lipreading) is increasingly being recognized as important to language development and reading development not only in deaf children, but also in hearing children. This is a longitudinal study over 3 years where deaf and hearing children are being tested and data will be subsequently analysed.