Visual Development and Ageing

Vision changes during our lifetime.  Although, human infants are not born blind, the visual system is immature at birth. Development of the eyes, the visual pathways and visual processing in the brain is central to many aspects of learning in infants. Development is dependent on complex interactions between growth and experience, which are particularly vulnerable during infancy and early childhood.

As life expectancy increases, in the UK and elsewhere, the elderly population is rising. It is essential to understand not only how the visual system changes with age but also how this affects visual and everyday task performance. Moreover most common causes of visual impairment (age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataract, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy) are diseases are most frequently found in the elderly. 

Overall, our aim is to understand how the visual system is organized in the normal human brain, how it develops, and how aging and brain damage affect this system with the final goal of developing novel strategies for restoring vision through a multidisciplinary approach.

Current topics of interest in visual development and aging include:

  • Visual development in premature infants
  • Studies of the impact of prenatal drug exposure on vision
  • Maturation of magnocellular and parvocellular pathways
  • Electrophysiological and psychophysical assessment of vision in children with neurological and cognitive impairment
  • Assessing reading and visual processing skills of young struggling readers
  • Physiological correlates of face perception in children
  • Spatial and temporal processing in the infant visual system
  • Rehabilitative treatment strategies in the treatment of amblyopia
  • Age-related deficits in the attentional control of perceptual rivalry
  • Visual impairment in the elderly, its visual assessment, everyday task performance and rehabilitation.
  • fNIRS studies in oxy [HbO] and de-oxyhaemoglobin [Hb] concentrations to study the effect of development and ageing on haemodynamic responses in the human brain

Key Research Staff:

Professor Daphne McCulloch
Professor Veltichko Manahilov
Professor Anita J Simmers
Dr Gael Gordon
Dr Uma Shahani
Dr Nadia Northway
Dr Niall Strang