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Professor Janette Atkinson FBA

Models of Visual brain development, underlying visual, spatial and social cognition in both typical and at-risk infants and children, including those with very premature birth and Williams Syndrome
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About this Fellow

Janette Atkinson is a pioneer in research on human development of vision and visual cognition. Janette's PhD was awarded by Cambridge University. She was a Professor and Pro-Provost (International)) at UCL and is now a UCL Emeritus Professor and Visiting Professor in Oxford University. She founded the Visual Development Unit, an interdisciplinary team started in Cambridge, later in UCL and Oxford. Janette's collaborators range across Europe, Asia and USA (including Johns Hopkins, MIT, Cornell, Salk Institute, UCSD). Janette devised one of the first models of visual brain development, identifying markers in the first months of life for functioning visual cortex, underpinning pattern, motion, depth perception and visual attention. Her novel, child-friendly methods have enabled early identification of visual disorders in preterm-born infants and children and those with developmental disorders, including Williams Syndrome, Down Syndrome, and Autism. She identified 'dorsal stream vulnerability' - a cluster of associated deficits in motion perception, attention, spatial actions and numeracy skills, relating these to specific changes in brain development. Janette is a strong supporter of women's academic careers through extensive mentoring and Athena SWAN (first UCL Lead and National Steering Committee). She is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Academia Europaea.



Current post

  • Emeritus Professor, University College London; Visiting Professor, University of Oxford


A specific deficit of dorsal stream function in Williams' syndrome

J Atkinson, J King, O Braddick, L Nokes, S Anker, F Braddick, 1997

NeuroReport, 8: 1919-1922

Human visual development over the first six months of life: a review and a hypothesis

J Atkinson, 1984

Human Neurobiology, 3: 61-74

Other Psychology Fellows

Professor Oliver Braddick

Visual perception and its development in early childhood; in particular, spatial, motion, binocular vision, and vision for action, and their underlying brain mechanisms in typical development and developmental disorders

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Clinical psychology; phenomenology, diagnosis, neural basis, & treatment of depression & post-traumatic stress disorder; psychological care following major incidents

Professor Nick Chater

The cognitive and social foundations of rationality & language; general principles of cognition; philosophical, economic & policy implications of cognitive science.

Professor Bencie Woll

Sign language as a model to understand human language generally: neuroimaging studies of commonalities in processing spoken & signed languages; the influence of modality of communication on language structure; sociolinguistics of Deaf communities.