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Assessing transient affective states in poultry using intracranial recording of brain oscillations (Newcastle, iCASE award)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr T Smulders
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The 5 freedoms of Animal Welfare include freedom from discomfort, pain and fear. The poultry industry aims to develop processes that minimize these negative effects on their birds. But how can these states be measured adequately? In this project, you will be part of a team of neuroscientists, poultry scientists and industry researchers with the aim of developing a novel way to measure birds’ affective states on a second-to-second basis. You will do this by recording brain activity in freely behaving poultry while they are exposed to different environmental conditions. Initially, these will be lab induced conditions, both positive (social companionship, good food, dust baths) and negative (social isolation, fear, brief pain). Using state-of-the-art neuroscience signal processing tools, you will then identify the minimal features of these brain recordings that allow us to discriminate these different affective states. Once this procedure has been validated in the lab, you will then take the technology into a commercial setting and measure the duration and extent of the different affective states in animals undergoing the normal processing from the poultry shed to just prior to slaughter. The newly-developed techniques will allow you to compare different methods and identify the problem areas for welfare, in order to develop higher-welfare processes in the future. You will learn a range of techniques from neuroscience (surgical, behavioural and analytical), while at the same time being trained in commercial R&D practices and in the priorities of commercial companies, as well as in academic research and rigour.

For further information see the website:

To apply:
Please submit a full CV and covering letter directly to [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

This is a 4 year BBSRC iCASE studentship under the Newcastle-Liverpool-Durham DTP. The successful applicant will receive research costs, tuition fees and stipend (£14,057 for 2015-16). The PhD will start in September 2016. Applicants should have, or be expecting to receive, a 2.1 Hons degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. EU candidates must have been resident in the UK for 3 years in order to receive full support. There are 2 stages to the application process.


Wells CE, Amos DP, Jeewajee A, Douchamps V, Rodgers RJ, O’Keefe J, Burgess N, Lever C (2013) Novelty and anxiolytic drugs dissociate two components of hippocampal theta in behaving rats. Journal of Neuroscience 33: 8650-8667

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