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Discovery and modelling of common molecular mechanisms disrupting hearing in genetic mutations associated with hearing loss

Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour

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Prof I D Forsythe , Dr A Lecchini-Visintini No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Determine the cellular and molecular changes in the auditory brainstem of mice carrying genetic mutations associated with hearing loss and language development and use modelling to evaluate common mechanisms.

While you can see with one eye and hear with one ear, many cognitive functions rely on rapid integration of information from two eyes or two ears (for example, depth perception and sound localization, respectively). In addition, integration of information from eyes and ears are used for multisensory processing which underlie further mechanisms of cognition. The speed of information processing by the brain in these cognitive processes is fundamental to normal brain function and failures in rapid processing in axons and at the synapse are now thought to underlie information processing disorders, such as auditory dysynchrony, language impairment and dyslexia.

This project will suite an ambitious and talented research, interested in learning quantitative methods to decode brain activity, and with the desire to learn and apply problem solving, data analysis computational modelling and presentational skills, within a group of like-minded investigators.

My laboratory uses state-of-the-art methods, combining genetics, imaging and electrophysiology to explore and understand how neurons and synapses work in concert to process information in the brain. Our experiments are conducted in the auditory pathway, so the results are relevant to hearing and cognition and contribute to understanding auditory diseases such as hearing loss and tinnitus and broader brain dysfunction in ataxia, dementia and dyslexia.

Immunohistochemistry will be employed to show where the mutated proteins are expressed in the brain; then electrophysiology will be used to investigate the cellular mechanism in an in vitro brain slice preparation and finally computational models will be used to assess changes in synaptic parameters through collaboration with Computational Neuroscience. A dynamical model describing the biochemical mechanisms of information transfer at the synapse has been developed in support of the experimental investigation. The model will test hypotheses’ validation and reconstruct unmeasured variables. The ability to integrate data obtained from different experiments, and better characterise random processes will be a key advantage of this multidisciplinary project.

UK/EU applicants only.

Entry requirements:
Applicants are required to hold/or expect to obtain a UK Bachelor Degree 2:1 or better in a relevant subject.
The University of Leicester English language requirements apply where applicable:

How to apply:
To apply for the PhD please refer to the guidelines and use the application link at
Please also submit your MIBTP notification form at

Project / Funding Enquiries: [Email Address Removed]
Application enquiries to [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

4 year fully funded BBSRC MIBTP studentship
UK/EU fees and stipend at UKRI rates. For 2020 this will be £15,285 pa


1. Lucas SJ, Michel CB, Marra V, Smalley JL, Hennig MH, Graham BP & Forsythe ID (2018). Glucose and lactate as metabolic constraints on presynaptic transmission at an excitatory synapse. J Physiol (Lond) 596, 1699–1721.

2. Pilati N, Linley DM, Selvaskandan H, Uchitel O, Hennig MH, Kopp-Scheinpflug C & Forsythe ID (2016). Acoustic trauma slows AMPA receptor-mediated EPSCs in the auditory brainstem, reducing GluA4 subunit expression as a mechanism to rescue binaural function. J Physiol (Lond) 594, 3683–3703.

3. Kopp-Scheinpflug C, Tozer AJB, Robinson SW, Tempel BL, Hennig MH & Forsythe ID (2011). The sound of silence: ionic mechanisms encoding sound termination. Neuron 71, 911–925.

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