School Funded PhD Studentship
We are currently recruiting two PhD candidates to join the School of Psychology at the University of Nottingham.
The successful candidate will work on the following projects:
Cognitive Flexibility in Dynamic Decision-Making: Unravelling Neurobehavioral Strategies
A growing need in the field of Behavioural Neuroscience is to enhance the analysis of decision-making behaviour across various species within dynamic environments. Conventional approaches, such as the psychometric curve, assume a stable environment and the use of a fixed strategy to solve a task, often averaging across multiple subjects.
However, it is crucial to characterise individual variations and variability across trials to comprehend how behaviour changes in uncertain and evolving environments. This project will create new, powerful machine-learning approaches to tracking an individual’s decision-making behaviour in an uncertain and changing world.
Our recent Bayesian inference algorithm (Maggi et al., 2023) enables us to track learning and understand how subjects learn by tracking subjects’ use of exploratory strategies. The project will extend this algorithm to solve the problems of determining which of a set of behavioural strategies a subject is using and how to incorporate evidence uncertainty into its detection of the learning of strategies and transitions between them. Using the extended algorithm on datasets of rodents and humans performing decision tasks will let us test a range of hypotheses for how correct decisions are learnt and what innate strategies are used.
The successful candidate should have a good honours degree (at least 2:1 or equivalent) in a relevant discipline, including physics, computer science, maths and psychology. A Master's qualification is not required at the point of application, but a Master's in a relevant discipline would be an advantage. Experience in programming with Matlab or Python is required, and experience in analysing time series data would be beneficial. The studentship is open to UK citizens; it will offer a stipend of £18,622 for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress.
The student will be part of the Computational Neuroscience Research Group within the School of Psychology. This Group includes Prof Mark van Rossum, Prof Mark Humphries, and Prof Stephen Coombes, bridging the School of Psychology with Mathematical Sciences. The Computational Neuroscience Group is a diverse and highly stimulating environment, including post-docs and PhD students. Within the School of Psychology, the diversity and multi-disciplinarity are enriched by strong research groups in Visual Neuroscience, Behavioural Neuroscience, Perception and Action, and Cognition and Language.
Maggi et al., 2023 (https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.08.30.505807v3.abstract)
Bähner et al., 2022 (https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.11.14.516439v2.abstract)
First Supervisor: Dr Silvia Maggi (School of Psychology, UoN)
Second supervisor: Prof Mark Humphries (School of Psychology, UoN)
Third Supervisor: Dr Hazem Toutounji (Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield)
The deadline to have completed and submitted your full application is 30 November, 2023.
Mapping sensory brain circuit integration with ultra high field MRI
An opportunity to complete a three-year, fully funded PhD at the School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, is available with Dr Elisa Zamboni and Dr Denis Schluppeck.
The successful candidate will conduct impactful research into the neuronal/brain circuits integrating visual and tactile sensory information. You will explore how plastic changes to these circuits can be induced through illusory interventions (based in virtual reality), with application for pain relief in hand-osteoarthritis (OA). Altering the visually perceived shape of deformed limbs in OA patients has shown analgesic effects (Preston et al., 2020). However, the mechanisms underlying the pain relief effect are not understood.
In doing this you will help shape strategies and novel programmes for pain relief that can better the lives of over 8 million people currently living with OA in the UK alone.
This original programme develops your skills in functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) at Ultra High Field (UHF) strengths, coupled with visuo-tactile illusions delivered through Virtual Reality technologies (e.g., Unity Platform programming) to map laminar-specific processing mechanism in the brain non-invasively. We aim to quantify modulations of feedforward/feedback connections across cortical layers (Zamboni et al., 2020) underlying visual and touch sensory integration, and how these relate to the neurorepresentation of individual fingers (Sanchez Panchuelo et al., 2018) in somatosensory cortex following a Virtual Reality-based digit-stertching illusion. The project will be completed in collaboration with Dr Aneurin Kennerley (Manchester Metropolitan University), world leading expert in biomedical imaging and neurovascular coupling.
The candidate must be passionate about multidisciplinary research. You will gain skills in brain imaging at high-resolution, using standardised acquisition protocols, and development of alternative techniques (e.g., Vascular Space Occupancy, VASO). In addition, there will be opportunity to gain and improve skills in signal processing, data analysis, dissemination and public engagement with science.
The successful candidate should have a good science/engineering based honours degree (minimum 2:1 or equivalent qualification) in a relevant discipline, including physics, neuroscience, computer science, psychology. An MSc in a relevant area is desirable but not essential. Experience with Matlab/Python/Unity is desirable, and experience in analysing image data would be beneficial. The studentship is open to UK citizens; it will offer a stipend of £18,622 for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress.
The student will be part of the Visual Neuroscience group in the School of Psychology and will also be associated to the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre, providing a diverse, multidisciplinary, and highly stimulating environment. There are strong links to other departments, including to Sports Sciences and Medical Imaging through the Institute of Sport (Manchester Metropolitan University).
Zamboni et al., 2020 (doi: 10.7554/eLife.57637)
Sanchez Panchuelo et al., 2018 (doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2018.00235)
Preston et al., 2020 (doi: 10.1016/j.msksp.2019.102080)
First Supervisor: Dr Elisa Zamboni (University of Nottingham)
Second Supervisor: Dr Denis Schluppeck (University of Nottingham)
Third Supervisor: Dr Aneurin James Kennerley (Manchester Metropolitan University)
The deadline to have completed and submitted your full application is 30 November, 2023.
PhD in Sensorimotor Neuroscience
The PhD studentship would focus on developing a mechanistic understanding the processes involved in neural entrainment, including the possibility of cross-modal entrainment and the use of non-invasive brain stimulation techniques to produce entrainment. A second focus might be to develop the use of transcranial focused ultrasound stimulation to investigate the role played by deep brain structures (e.g., insula, cingulate cortex, amygdala) in common brain health conditions. We anticipate that student would be trained in the use of EEG/MEG recording and analysis techniques and in the use of transcranial focused ultrasound stimulation.
This studentship would suit somebody with an honours level undergraduate degree in experimental psychology, neuroscience, or a related subject. An appropriate masters level degree and/or previous experience with brain imaging (e.g., MRI, EEG, MEG) or brain stimulation (e.g., TMS) techniques would be an advantage.
The PhD would ideally start in February 2024 and is funded by the Science Faculty of the University of Nottingham and the Donders Institute, The Netherlands. We envisage that the student would largely be based in Nottingham with the possibility of spending time at the Donders Institute.
The studentship is open to UK citizens; it will offer a stipend of £18,622 for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress.
First Supervisor: Professor Stephen Jackson (University of Nottingham)
Second Supervisor: Professor Edward de Haan (Donders Institute)
The deadline to have completed and submitted your full application is 12th January 2024.
The School of Psychology at the University of Nottingham is one of the largest and most active research communities in the UK. Psychology at Nottingham is dedicated to the study of the psychological and biological basis of behaviour. Our research spans many sub-disciplines in psychology. These range from personality to neuroscience, to developmental psychology. Staff have a broad range of expertise and access to excellent research facilities and infrastructure.
In the most recent Research Excellence Framework exercise (REF 2021) we were ranked 8th in the UK for research power. Our University is a supportive, inclusive caring community. We warmly welcome those of different cultures, ethnicities and beliefs.
Nottingham is ideally situated in the middle of England and has excellent transport links, being served by a major train station and with multiple airports close by. It has a large and diverse student population and a vibrant social scene, with plenty of fine drinking and eating establishments to suit every taste. The East Midlands is one of the most affordable areas to live in the UK and Nottingham University is situated on a beautiful, leafy campus with easy access to the city (15 minute tram ride).
The anticipated start date is 1st February 2024.
The deadline to have completed and submitted your full application is 30 November 2023.
How to apply
Before you apply
Check your eligibility:
You need to meet two key criteria in order to be eligible to apply.
Our fully funded studentships are currently only open to Home students for fee purposes. For more information on whether you would be classed as a Home or International student, please visit the official UKCISA website
You need a 2:1 undergraduate degree (or equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK) in a relevant field such as Psychology, Neuroscience, Cognitive Science, Computer Science, Physiology, Mathematics or a related discipline.
If you have a 2:2 or lower, you may still be eligible to apply if:
- you have a masters degree in a relevant subject
- you have three or more years of full-time work experience that is relevant to your undergraduate degree, or to the PhD projects you are applying for
You may still be eligible to apply if you were not able to complete your degree or achieved unexpectedly low degree results due to extenuating circumstances.
English not your first language?
If English isn't your first language, you will also need to meet the relevant English language requirements. An IELTS score of 6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element) is required, though we also accept alternative qualifications
All applications are to be made directly to the University, selecting PhD Psychology (36 months duration) as the course. Please apply at:
In the research proposal section please only include “Silvia Maggi’s advertised PhD position” in the title. Please note, the application will not be considered if you fail to do so. You are required to upload the following documents to your application:
During the application you will be asked to select a term and programme of study. Please select 2023 academic year and the programme Psychology PhD (36 month).
The application will also require you to provide:
- Transcripts of your BSc and MSc grades (if applicable)
- Two reference letters (in a non-editable format such as pdf, on headed paper and signed by the referee) or the details (email addresses) of two referees that we can contact. At least one of these must be academic.
- Personal statement. In this section, please copy and paste the responses you developed for Stage 2.
You must ensure you submit your application by the deadline on November 30, 2023, as we will not be able to accept late applications. .
If you have further enquiries about the studentships, please contact Dr Silvia Maggi or Prof Mark Humphries School of Psychology. If you have questions about the MyNottingham application process, please contact email@example.com for further advice.
After you apply
Once the deadline has passed, all eligible applications will be considered by a panel of academics who will select candidates to attend an online interview. You will find out if you have been successful around two weeks after the deadline. The assessment will include a short presentation on the candidate’s previous research experience, and an interview with questions on the candidate’s academic abilities, motivation, and transferable skills. Candidates will be told when they can expect to hear the final outcome at the interview.