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Cognition and motor control in older adults: the nature of the change in motor control across the lifespan and the consideration of constraints on motor control.

Project Description

Eligibility: Home UK/EU applicants who must be permanently resident in UK/EU
Interviews: 25 March 2019
Start date: September 2019
Value p.a.: Bursary equivalent to UKRI national minimum stipend plus fees (2018/19 bursary rate is £14,777)


Movement is the only way in which humans can interact with the world. However, a wealth of research demonstrates a significant decline in motor control as we age which may have a significant impact on the quality of life. The decline in motor control include change to both manual movements where we see slowness and inaccuracy and gross motor control where we see a propensity towards falling and tripping. A prominent theory in motor control research is the constraints-based approach to movement which states that any motor response is constrained by the environment, the task and the individual (Keogh and Sugden 1985; Newell, 1986). As such any emerging movement is a response to these constraints. As such the change we see in movement across the lifespan may be the result of changing constraints in one, or more, of these areas.

A PhD in this area could focus on the nature of the change in motor control across the lifespan and the consideration of constraints on motor control. Such constraints could include, but would not be limited to: physical constraints (i.e. range of motion), higher-order cognitive processes (i.e. planning, inhibition, memory) and/or internal simulation of movement which is thought to be a key process in motor control (Wolpert et al., 1998).

There is an additional requirement to undertake up to 6 hours undergraduate teaching/week during semesters and to participate in a teaching skills course without further remuneration.

For further information contact Dr Kate Wilmut:

Funding Notes

Applicants should have (or be expecting) a first class or upper second class honours degree from a Higher Education Institution in the UK or acceptable equivalent qualification in psychology or related cognate discipline (knowledge of research design and statistics is essential). EU Applicants must have a valid IELTS Academic test certificate with an overall minimum score of 7.0 and no score below 6.0 issued in the last 2 years by an approved test centre. We are prepared to consider alternative acceptable evidence of English Language ability.


How to apply:
Applications should be sent to [email protected] and should include an application form
( and a project proposal (max 2000 words) including background, aims and an outline of how those aims will be addressed. Applicants can liaise with Dr Kate Wilmut when developing their proposal.

Completion of a DBS check is required on enrolment the cost of this will be covered by the University.

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