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:

Ward, J. (2019) Synaesthesia: a distinct entity that is an emergent feature of adaptive neurocognitive differences. Philosophical Transactions B: Biological Sciences, 374 (1787). pp. 1-13. ISSN 0962-8436

Ward, J. (2019) Individual differences in sensory sensitivity: a synthesising framework and evidence from normal variation and developmental conditions. Cognitive Neuroscience, 10 (3). pp. 139-157. ISSN 1758-8928


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:

Grice-Jackson, Thomas, Critchley, Hugo, Banissy, Michael J and Ward, Jamie (2017) Common and distinct neural mechanisms associated with the conscious experience of vicarious pain. Cortex, 94. pp. 152-163. ISSN 0010-9452

 Botan, V, Fan, S, Critchley, H and Ward, J (2018) Atypical susceptibility to the rubber hand illusion linked to sensory-localised vicarious pain perception. Consciousness and Cognition, 60. pp. 62-71. ISSN 1053-8100

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:

Hamilton-Fletcher, Giles, Pisanski, Katarzyna, Reby, David, StefaƄczyk, Michal, Ward, Jamie and Sorokowska, Agnieszka (2018) The role of visual experience in the emergence of cross-modal correspondences. Cognition, 175. pp. 114-121.

Hamilton-Fletcher, Giles, Obrist, Marianna, Watten, Phil, Mengucci, Michele and Ward, Jamie (2016) “I always wanted to see the night sky”: blind user preferences for Sensory Substitution Devices. ACM CHI Conference on human factors in computing systems (CHI 2016), San Jose, CA, USA, May 7-12, 2016. Published in: CHI '16 Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. 2162-2174. Association for Computing Machinery ISBN 9781450333627