Watkins, Professor Kate


Kate Watkins

Fellow and Tutor in Psychology
Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience

Email: kate.watkins@psy.ox.ac.uk

Academic background

I trained in neuropsychology at the Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London.  My doctoral research used neuropsychology and structural image analysis to study the KE family, the affected members of which have a mutation in the gene FOXP2 and a severe motor speech disorder.  My post-doctoral training was at the Montreal Neurological Institute, where I used TMS to study the role of the motor cortex in speech perception.  I have been in Oxford at the FMRIB Centre since 2003 and I was appointed as a University Lecturer in Experimental Psychology in 2006.


I am interested in how the brain communicates using speech and language and what goes wrong in the brains of people with speech and language impairments. 

My general research interests are in the area of cognitive neuroscience.  Specifically, I am interested in the brain processes underlying speech and language and brain development. This is studied by working with populations of children and adults with developmental and acquired disorders of speech and language, e.g. stuttering, verbal dyspraxia, acquired aphasia.  I am also interested in how functional specialisation for auditory and language processing develops in the brain deprived of vision and study this in people who are congenitally blind.  We use a number of different methods in the laboratory including neuropsychological testing, brain imaging and brain stimulation.  

Selected publications

Jennifer Chesters, Riikka Möttönen, Kate E Watkins, Transcranial direct current stimulation over left inferior frontal cortex improves speech fluency in adults who stutter, Brain, Volume 141, Issue 4, April 2018, Pages 1161–1171, https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awy011.

Saloni Krishnan, Kate E. Watkins, Dorothy V.M. Bishop, Neurobiological Basis of Language Learning Difficulties, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Volume 20, Issue 9, 2016, Pages 701-714, ISSN 1364-6613, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2016.06.012.

Kate E. Watkins, Stephen M. Smith, Steve Davis, Peter Howell, Structural and functional abnormalities of the motor system in developmental stuttering, Brain, Volume 131, Issue 1, January 2008, Pages 50–59, https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awm241.