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Does visual working memory store perceptual evidence during decision-making? (Ref: SF20/PSY/RAJSIC)

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

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Dr J Rajsic Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Current approaches to perceptual decision-making consider it to be process of evidence accumulation towards a bound, as is captured by sequential-sampling models. These models hold that decisions are made by accumulating evidence for alternative decisions (e.g., is this object an apple or an orange), and that a decision is made when evidence accumulated for a given alternative crossed a threshold. Despite a surge of research in cognitive neuroscience on perceptual decision-making, it is not clear to what extent perceptual decisions rely on capacity limited perceptual memory systems, namely visual working memory, during decision-making. An intuitive possibility is that visual information is buffered in an accessible format so that evidence may be continually sampled by decision accumulators. Intuitive as it is, little evidence is available to evaluate the potential role of visual working memory in perceptual decision-making across a range of different decision contexts. The proposed research will address this by directly measuring the recruitment of visual working memory during perceptual decisions using electrophysiological measures of memory activation. If visual working memory indeed acts as an information buffer during perceptual decision making, then electrophysiological markers of memory storage should be larger and more sustained when decisions take longer to make, as such decisions require more perceptual evidence to be available for longer periods of time. This possibility will be evaluated in a number of ways: by reducing the quality of perceptual evidence (adding noise), by increasing the number of decision alternatives, and by comparing decisions for high- and low-frequency alternatives. These findings will provide a critical step towards linking neural markers to psychological processes in decision-making.

Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g., SF20/…) will not be considered.
Deadline for applications: Open
Start Date: October 2020 or March 2021

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Please direct enquiries to Jason Rajsic ([Email Address Removed])

Funding Notes

Please note, this is a self-funded project and does not include tuition fees or stipend; the studentship is available to Students Worldwide. Fee bands are available at . A relevant fee band will be discussed at interview based on project running costs.


Rajsic, J., Hilchey, M. D., Woodman, G. F., & Pratt, J. (2019). Visual working memory load does not eliminate visuomotor repetition effects. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 1-14.

Rajsic, J., & Woodman, G. F. (2019). Do we remember templates better so that we can reject distractors better?. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 1-11.

Wang, S., Rajsic, J., & Woodman, G. F. (2019). The Contralateral Delay Activity Tracks the Sequential Loading of Objects into Visual Working Memory, Unlike Lateralized Alpha Oscillations. Journal of cognitive neuroscience, 31(11), 1689-1698.

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