Neuroanatomy and Cognition Group

About Us

Dr Chance's research group within the University of Oxford is based in the Nuffield department of Clinical Neurosciences at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. Our projects study cognitive/psychiatric disorders and comparative evolutionary neuroscience. We are interested in the relationship between brain structure and function - particularly language and social cognition.

Topics of interest:

Picture of a model brain

Our studies of disease examine the neuroanatomy of Alzheimer's disease, Autism and Schizophrenia using post-mortem human brain material in the Neuropathology department in Oxford. These projects focus on columnar structure, lateralisation and persistent adult cortical plasticity. The investigations aim to identify the ongoing structural changes in the adult brain that form part of normal ageing but make it vulnerable to pathology and dementia. This work has recently provided evidence of minicolumn changes in normal human ageing and cytoarchitectural evidence for failure of the ageing process in schizophrenia.

Collaborations with the University of Louisville, USA and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, USA have enabled comparative studies of chimpanzee and human neuroanatomy. These are examining auditory 'language' cortex, fusiform (face processing) cortex, and prefrontal cortex. Indications are that the maturation rate and hemispheric asymmetry of these are different between chimpanzees and humans.

Our neuropsychology work compares semantic organisation and face processing in adolescence and ageing. Combined with fMRI of semantic memory these studies complement the anatomical studies. A recent project has investigated the altered cytoarchitecture of the inferior parietal lobe in schizophrenia and the putative anomalies of ageing. This brain region contains one of the highest densities of mirror neurons that may contribute to 'theory of mind'. We have begun to investigate this region further in autism.

Recent funding



Neuroanatomy and Cognition Group,
Neuropathology Department,
West Wing, Level 1,
John Radcliffe Hospital,