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Characterizing inter-individual differences and longitudinal changes in information processing speed

   Cardiff School of Psychology

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  Dr J Zhang, Prof A Lawrence, Prof K Graham  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Information processing speed (IPS) varies substantially across individuals and changes during ageing. Previous research showed that IPS is a key indicator of physical and cognitive well-being. However, IPS is a multifaceted concept. On one hand, motor IPS can be quantified from computerised reaction time tasks. On the other hand, some IQ tests provide measures of cognitive IPS that relate closely to fluid intelligence but is less influenced by education. At the brain level, both motor and cognitive IPS have been associated with brain microstructure and functional connectivity. Since a large number of experimental paradigms provide various measures of IPS, existing findings are heterogeneous and lack a comprehensive understanding. Furthermore, less is known on the development and the decline of IPS thought the life span, and how they co-exist with cognitive decline in healthy ageing and neurodegenerative diseases.

 The current PhD project will examine (1) whether cognitive, demographical and biological factors selectively influence motor and cognitive IPS, and (2) how the changes in IPS over age relate to brain microstructure and connectivity. The successful candidate will work on multiple cross-sectional and longitudinal cohort datasets.

 We welcome enthusiastic applicants from a wide range of backgrounds, including psychology, neuroscience, computing, engineering or physics. We will provide training in advanced statistical analyses, computational modelling and brain imaging. The PhD candidate will join a collaborative and multidisciplinary research team at Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC). CUBRIC houses a unique combination of state-of-the-art facilities and world-leading expertise, with 4 human MRI systems, MEG, EEG, TMS, tDCS, clinical research units and testing labs. Further details of CUBRIC can be found on our webpage ( 

Funding Notes

This studentship is open to Home, EU or international students. The award offered will cover Home fees and maintenance stipend. International/EU candidates are welcomed but may need to self-fund the difference between Home and International fees.

However, there are a limited number of studentships available for international/EU applicants that can cover full or partial fees.


The studentship will commence in October 2022 and will cover your tuition fees (at UK/EU level) as well as a maintenance grant. In 2021-22 the maintenance grant for full-time students was £15,609 per annum. As well as tuition fees and a maintenance grant, all School of Psychology students receive access to courses offered by the University’s Doctoral Academy and become members of the University Doctoral Academy
As only one studentship is available and a very high standard of applications is typically received, the successful applicant is likely to have a very good first degree (a First or Upper Second class BSc Honours or equivalent) and/or be distinguished by having relevant research experience.
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