Kate Watkins, University of Oxford

Kate Watkins is currently a full professor in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Oxford.

Kate completed her PhD with Faraneh Vargha-Khadem and David Gadian at University College London. Her doctoral work used neuropsychology and brain imaging to study members of the KE family who had a mutation in the gene FOXP2, which causes impairments in speech and language. She identifies structural and functional abnormalities in cortical and subcortical motor areas in affected family members. For her postdoctoral research, she moved to the Montreal Neurological Institute to work with Tomas Paus. There she used TMS with EMG recordings from the lip and with PET imaging to study the role of the speech motor system in speech perception.

Kate returned to the UK and the University of Oxford working first at the FMRIB Centre and then in the Department of Experimental Psychology and St. Anne’s College. She established the Speech & Brain Research Group in Oxford, which uses brain imaging and brain stimulation alone and in combination to study sensorimotor interactions for speech. Her research involves studies of speech and language in typical adults, children and special populations with speech and language disorders, such as stuttering and developmental language disorder. Recently, her team completed a randomised controlled trial showing that tDCS can enhance fluency in people who stutter. A new trial is underway using imaging of the brain and vocal tract, MEG and TMS to measure the outcomes of the tDCS and speech training intervention.

Professor Watkins will be co-hosting a session on ‘Ethical Approval and Study Design’ at our upcoming BrainBox Initiative Conference on 27-28 September 2018.