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Cognitive ageing and lexical retrieval during language production in context

   Department of Psychology

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  Dr A de Bruin, Prof E Jefferies  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Position Details
Applications are invited to apply for one Department of Psychology, University of York funded PhD studentship under the supervision of Dr. Angela de Bruin and Prof. Beth Jefferies. The position starts on September 28th, 2020 and will be fully funded.

The department of Psychology is among the world’s top psychology departments, excelling in both teaching and research. We pride ourselves in providing a supportive and vibrant learning environment, which offers our students every opportunity to meet their personal development goals.

Project Background
Healthy older adults might have more difficulties retrieving words during language production than younger adults. For example, older adults need more time when they have to name pictures. Most research on this topic has focused on the production of single words. However, language production is rarely limited to individual words. Instead, we usually produce language in sentences in dialogue and are influenced by the (semantic) information present in the context.

This PhD project aims to study how age affects lexical retrieval during language production in context. The project will assess how age effects on lexical retrieval differ between language production in context versus production of isolated words. The project will furthermore examine how semantic cues available from the context can hinder versus facilitate lexical retrieval in older and younger adults. These questions will be addressed in behavioural and fMRI experiments.

For further information on the project, please see:

PhD position
The PhD candidate will focus on how age affects lexical retrieval during language production in context.

The key question of the PhD project addresses how age affects lexical retrieval during language production. More specifically, it will address how these potential age effects can be modulated by context. To this end, the PhD student will develop tasks that compare lexical retrieval during single-word production versus during language production in context. This project will also assess how semantic cues affect lexical retrieval in older and younger adults as well as to what extent these effects might be modulated by age-related changes in domain-general versus semantic control. This way, the project aims to study the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying age-related changes in lexical retrieval in language production.

The PhD candidate will be responsible for all aspects of the research project, that is for designing experiments, conducting behavioral and neuroimaging experiments, data analysis, and the dissemination of results.

Essential requirements:
- Strong 2.1 BSc (Hons) or equivalent degree in psychology, (cognitive) neuroscience, (psycho/neuro-)linguistics, or a related discipline
- Solid knowledge of statistical methods
- Experience with empirical work in (psycho/neuro-)linguistics, psychology and/or (cognitive) neuroscience
- High motivation and strong interest in the topics of language and cognitive ageing
- Strong writing and communication skills

Desirable requirements:
- Experience programming behavioural experiments, for example using PsychoPy
- Experience preparing stimulus materials and/or designing experimental paradigms
- Experience in running fMRI experiments
- Training or practical experience in fMRI analysis

Candidates should initially show their interest to apply by contacting Angela de Bruin ([Email Address Removed]) prior to sending a full application.

If after contacting Angela de Bruin a candidate wishes to pursue an application, please complete the application process on the University of York website link below.

The deadline for applications is on January 13th, 2020 with interviews to be held on February 13th, 2020.

Funding Notes

Funding for this position covers: (1) home/EU fees and (2) £15,096 stipend each year in return for 100 hours teaching without additional payment. Overseas students are welcome to apply but must make up the difference in fees between home and overseas rates.
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