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Closed-loop modulation of neuronal plasticity

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Applications are invited from UK or EU residents to join a multidisciplinary team of scientists developing novel brain stimulation methods to modulate plasticity in cortico-basal ganglia circuits. The studentship is available from the start of academic year 2020/21 for 3 years and will be supervised by Dr Andrew Sharott and Dr Hayriye Cagnan at the MRC Brain Network Dynamics Unit at the University of Oxford (MRC BNDU). The overall aim of the studentship project is to discover specific spatiotemporal patterns of cortical stimulation that can bidirectionally modulate cortico-basal ganglia plasticity, with a view to inspire innovative therapeutics for neurological and psychiatric disorders. This will involve the student conducting neurophysiology experiments in rodents, combining recordings of brain activity in vivo recordings with electrical or optogenetic stimulation paradigms. The student will work together with other members of the Sharott and Cagnan groups to optimise these stimulation techniques and evaluate their effects on established behavioural paradigms. For further details about the project, contact andrew.sharott or see and

Interested candidates should possess, or expect to receive, a 1st class or upper 2nd class degree (or equivalent) in a related scientific discipline, e.g. biology, physics, medicine, computer science, engineering, mathematics. Previous experience in neuroscience research is essential.

The MRC BNDU is uniquely multidisciplinary, integrating exceptional research programmes that span clinical, experimental and computational neuroscience and bioengineering. The collective aim of the MRC BNDU is to understand the moment-to-moment interactions between nerve cells that are critical for brain functions, and to exploit these to develop novel therapies for disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. For more information, see

This Ph.D. (D.Phil.) studentship is funded by the Medical Research Council. To normally be eligible for a full award (stipend in addition to fees), a student must have no restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship. For further details about the MRC studentship funding and eligibility requirements for full and fees-only awards, please see:

To be considered for this studentship, please submit an application for admission to the DPhil in NDCN (course code RD_CU1), following the guidance at On the application form, in the section headed ‘Departmental Studentship Applications’, please indicate that you are applying for a studentship and enter the reference code for a BNDU studentship "20CLINNEURO02WEB".

The closing date is 12.00 midday UK time on Wednesday 22nd April 2020.

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