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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 Mairéad MacSweeney is Director.
Independent Research Fellows
- 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.
- Heather Payne
I am interested in functional asymmetries (lateralisation) of processing signed and spoken language. I use functional transcranial Doppler sonography (fTCD) and behavioural measures to examine language lateralisation in deaf and hearing children.
Post-doctoral Research Fellows
- Junfei Liu
I am interested in the neural basis of reading in deaf readers.
- Laura Monroy
As a child of deaf adults (CODA) and having grown up in a deaf family, I am particularly interested in language processing in deaf people (sign and spoken language) and in the use of different strategies (e.g., fingerspelling, speechreading) on the development of their literacy.
- Victoria Mousley
I am interested in the early cognitive processes and neurological correlates of learning spoken and/or signed language.