Photo of Jamie Ward

Jamie Ward
Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience (Psychology)
T: +44 (0)1273 876598


A full and up-to-date list of my publications can be found here…

I conduct research in human cognitive neuroscience using methods such as neuropsychology, fMRI, TMS and EEG.  The specific focus of my present research can be divided into three inter-related strands that all relate to individual differences in perceptual experience, and the relation between perception and other aspects of cognition (including memory and social cognition).

Synaesthesia and the multi-sensory brain

My research group is one of the world-leading centres for studying the phenomenon of synaesthesia (hearing flashes, tasting words, coloured music, etc.).  The research is revealing how individual differences in conscious perceptual experiences are linked to neurobiological differences and how they relate to cognition more broadly.  Our present research examines how synaesthesia is linked to memory function and perceptual sensitivity.

Further information can be found at

Representative recent publications:

Banissy M.J., Tester, V., Muggleton, N.G., Janik, A.B., Davenport, A., Franklin, A., Walsh, V., & Ward, J. (2013).  Synesthesia for Color Is Linked to Improved Color Perception but Reduced Motion Perception, Psychological Science, 24(12), 2390 - 2397.

Ward, J. (2013).  Synesthesia.  Annual Review of Psychology, 64, 49-75

Rothen, N., Meier, B., & Ward, J. (2012).  Enhanced memory ability: Insights from synaesthesia.  Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 36, 1952–1963.

Ward, J., Jonas, C.N., Dienes, Z., & Seth, A.K. (2009).  Grapheme-colour synaesthesia improves detection of embedded shapes, but without pre-attentive “pop-out” of synaesthetic colour. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 277, 1021-1026

Social neuroscience of vicarious perception

My research in this area has focussed on how observing bodily states on other people (such as touch, pain and itch) interfaces with neural representations of our own body.  This includes atypical experiences (e.g. people who literally experience the pain of others) as well as more commonplace ones (e.g. the rubber hand illusion).  Understanding vicarious perception will provide novel insights in to the mechanisms of social cognition (e.g. empathy, perspective taking).

Representative recent publications:

Alrajih, S. & Ward, J. (2014). Increased facial width-to-height ratio and perceived dominance in the faces of the UK's leading business leaders.  British Journal of Psychology, 105 (2), 153–161

Goller, A.I., Richards, K., Novak, S. & Ward, J. (2013).  Mirror-touch Synaesthesia in the Phantom Limbs of Amputees.  Cortex, 49, 243-251

Holle, H., Warne, K., Seth, A. K., Critchley, H. D., & Ward, J. (2012). The neural basis of contagious itch and why some people are more prone to it. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA, 109, 19816–1982

Banissy, M.J., Sauter, D., Ward, J., Warren, J., Walsh, V., & Scott, S.K. (2010) Suppressing sensorimotor activity modulates the discrimination of auditory emotions but not speaker identity.  Journal of Neuroscience, 30, 13552–13557.

Sensory loss, sensory substitution and cross-modal plasticity

Normal neural pathways connecting the senses may become distorted or amplified by sensory loss (e.g. blindness) such that the ‘visual’ cortex responds to sound and touch.  One aspect of our current research examines the nature of this plasticity and how it reverses following restoration of sight.  Another aspect examines how technology (sensory substitution devices) can be used to represent the visual world via sound and touch to the visually impaired (see  Finally, phantom sounds (in tinnitus) may be modulated by the somatic system in some people (e.g. moving their eyes or jaw affects the tinnitus) suggesting cross-modal plasticity of a somatic-auditory pathway in these individuals.

Representative recent publications:

Ward, J., Vella, C., Hoare, D.J., & Hall, D.A. (in press).  Subtyping somatic tinnitus: A cross-sectional UK cohort study of demographic, clinical and audiological characteristics.  PLoS ONE

Ward, J. & Wright, T.D. (2014).  Sensory substitution as an artificially acquired synaesthesia.  Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 41, 26-31.

Wright, T.D., Margolis, A., & Ward, J. (in press).  Using an auditory sensory substitution device to augment vision: Evidence from eye movements.  Experimental Brain Research

Hamilton-Fletcher, G., & Ward, J. (2013).  Representing colour through hearing and touch in sensory substitution devices.  Multisensory Research, 26 (6), 503-532