Visual Development Unit

Department of Psychology, University College London

and the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford

Help Us


The Visual Development Unit has been running for over 20 years, first in the University of Cambridge, and since 1993 at University College London. We now have a second Unit at the University of Oxford. 

We devise new methods for testing how children use the vision they need for everyday tasks - recognising objects and people, reaching for toys, crossing the road, finding their way around. These tests help us to find out more about how the eye-brain systems develop normally, and why this development sometimes goes wrong.

Our London Unit is situated at 26 Bedford Way, on the fourth floor (with our own automatic door and lift). We have feeding and changing facilities here, as well as toys and books for both babies and older brothers and sisters. We can reimburse volunteer families for short taxi journeys or for other travel expenses, including parking which is available nearby.

Our Oxford Unit has similar facilities. It is on the ground floor of the University's department of Experimental Psychology, on the corner of South Parks Road and St. Cross Road, near the University Parks.

If you are willing to help us and have a baby any age between birth and 5 years, please find out how you can help us

It is especially helpful if you get in touch with us as soon as possible after the birth of your baby, as many of our tests are for children in the first 3 months of life. After we have received your form, we will contact you to arrange an appointment. If your child takes part in our studies, he/she will be offered a vision screening check for common problems.

The Visual Development Unit has been supported since its beginning in 1975 by grants from the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Babies’ hand movements for different sized objects reveal how they can use visual information to guide their actions. (a) ‘grasp and close’ action; (b) non ‘grasp & close’ action.

fMRI – normal adults (Braddick et al, Current Biology, 2000). Independent networks for coherent form and coherent motion.
We have a wide programme of research and assessment in both normal and abnormal visual development in infants and young children.  

The post-box test assesses visually based planning of actions. This is often a problem in Williams Syndrome

We liaise with a number of academic departments and hospital-based research and assessment groups in London and Oxford, including University College Hospital, Hammersmith Hospital, John Radcliffe Hospital, Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital.  

We recruit our volunteer families with normal infants mainly from UCH, Royal Free and Whittington Hospitals.

We have also carried out the follow-up of 300 children selected from our second videorefraction Screening Programme in Cambridge.

  • For an overview of the work we do, take a look at the introduction page

  • More comprehensive information is available on our research page

  • For a list of the papers we have published, see the publications page
  • If you are willing to help us and have a baby any age between birth and two years, find out how you can help us

  • Contact details, and information about the people who work here.

  • Links to visual development and related resources

Updated 12-Jan 2005

Visual Development Unit, Department of Psychology, University College London, Gower Street London WC1E 6BT UK

Email: Telephone: +44 (0)20 7679 7574 Fax +44 (0)20 7679 7576