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Janette Atkinson

PhD, FMedSci, FBA

My research has focussed on the development, from the newborn period through childhood, of vision, visual cognition, and their underlying brain mechanisms.  This has included pioneering research on infant and child  contrast sensitivity, binocular vision, motion and orientation sensitivity, focussing and refraction, global form and motion processing and attention. I have applied this work on the milestones of typical development to the analysis of developmental problems, both genetic (for example in Williams Syndrome), perinatal brain injury and premature birth, and developmental ophthalmic disorders.

Many of these problems can be seen in terms of the concept, which I introduced, of ‘dorsal stream vulnerability’  - the specific vulnerability in development of the cortical processing stream which underpins motion processing, visuomotor control, and many aspects of visual attention. My recent work has focussed on these areas of visuocognitive function,   including the development and application of the Early Childhood Attention Battery (“ECAB”) to analyse the components of attention in children aged 3-6 years or mental age equivalent.  My current collaborations in work on neurodevelopmental disorders are with groups in the Oxford Dept of Paediatrics (Dolphin study of dietary supplementation for infants at risk of cerebral palsy), the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, Rome, Brescia, and on typical brain development through MRI, with the University of California, San Diego.

With my colleague Oliver Braddick, I established and directed Visual Development Units, supported by the UK Medical Research Council,   in Cambridge, UCL, and Oxford.  I have been an elected Visiting Professor in Oxford as well as my major appointment at UCL.  As well as election to fellowships of the British Academy and the Academy of Medical Sciences, I am a member of the Academia Europaea and have been awarded the Koffka medal from the University of Giessen, and  the Davida Teller Award of the Vision Sciences Society in recognition of “outstanding research contributions to Vision Research”.

A fuller account of my research, and a full list of publications, can be found at