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An exploration of the influence of alcohol on memory for traumatic events

School of Health and Life Sciences

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Dr J Gawrylowicz No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Ref: S2017SHLS009

There is a strong link between exposure to trauma, such as violent offences and sexual abuse and alcohol use. In Scotland almost half (49%) of common assault records make reference to the consumption of alcohol (National Statistics Publication for Scotland, 2015/16). Furthermore, victims and witnesses may turn to alcohol after trauma exposure to alleviate trauma related symptoms, such as intrusive thoughts and memory flashbacks (Kaysen, et al., 2006). It is surprising that only few studies to date have examined the combined effect of alcohol and trauma on memory and intrusive thoughts (Bisby et al., 2009; Bisby et al., 2010), and no research has investigated the effects of alcohol on memory after the experience of trauma. A better understanding of how alcohol might influence memories for traumatic events may help to develop effective interventions for individuals suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and alcohol abuse. In addition to practical implications, findings from this PhD will provide core theoretical insights towards our understanding of the mechanisms underlying alcohol–induced memory impairments.

In a series of studies, this innovative PhD project will examine the effect of alcohol before and after trauma exposure on episodic and intrusive memory. A mixed-methods approach will be used, consisting of experimental laboratory studies and follow-up individual semi-structured qualitative interviews.

The supervisory team
The Director of Studies (Dr Julie Gawrylowicz, Glasgow Caledonian University) and the external supervisor (Professor Ian Albery, London South Bank University) are both experienced in conducting alcohol administration studies. The successful PhD candidate will be thoroughly trained by them before commencing with any alcohol administration work. Dr Karen Lorimer (Glasgow Caledonian University) is an experienced social science researcher, with expertise in qualitative research on sensitive topics (e.g. sexual health, domestic abuse). She will advise and train the successful candidate in conducting qualitative interviews about traumatic events.

Specific requirements of the project:
 The successful applicant will have an UK honours degree 2:1 (or equivalent), in a relevant subject, such as psychology or sociology, or equivalent educational background.
 He or she will have experience in conducting research using quantitative and qualitative methods.
 Knowledge of ethical procedures and experience of working within ethical frameworks is required.
 Excellent written, verbal and presentation skills for both specialist and non-specialist audiences (proof of proficiency in English will be required).
 Ability and experience in prioritising activities and tasks to accomplish goals within the set deadlines.
 Excellent interpersonal skills including clear and concise verbal communication and an ability to negotiate compromises and resolve conflict amicably.

Funding Notes

The studentship of £19,100 per year is for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress. The studentship covers the payment of tuition fees (currently £4,300 for UK/EU students or £15,000 for International students) plus an annual stipend of £14,800 for UK/EU students or an annual scholarship of £4,100 for International students.

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