Professor John Stein

John Stein

John Stein is emeritus Professor of Neuroscience and Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford. After preclinical studies at New College, Oxford, John trained as a clinical neurologist at St Thomas’s Hospital, London, Leicester and Oxford. From 1970 to 2008 he was Fellow and Tutor in Medicine and Physiological Sciences at Magdalen College, Oxford.

He got interested in dyslexia from seeing many children with damage to the part of the visual system that senses movement, whose first inkling of trouble was that the world began swinging round crazily when they tried to read. With Sue Fowler, a brilliant orthoptist, who’d noticed the same kinds of symptoms in dyslexic children, he put forward the theory that their visual motion system may be impaired – the ‘magnocellular’ theory of dyslexia. Although the idea is still controversial, more and more people are accepting it now.


In theory ‘retired’, he still teaches neuroscience to medical and psychology students and his research continues to focus on the role of visual motion sensitivity in the control of movement and behaviour in neurological patients, dyslexics and young offenders.

Professor Stein always been a great admirer of Helen Arkell’s open-minded and outstandingly effective approach to teaching dyslexics. Recently he’s added an interest in fish oils which lubricate the visual motion system. John doesn’t often cook fish; his brother TV seafood chef, Rick Stein, doesn’t do much neuroscience!