The availability of multiple senses is highly beneficial to control behaviour. Different senses like audition, vision, and touch not only increase the spectrum of perceivable signals but also provide redundant signals that, by combination, enable better estimates of external events and/or faster achievements of subjective goals. However, we do not yet fully understand the brain functions that guide the combination of multisensory signals. From the perspective of a computational modelling approach with behavioural data, a key challenge lies in the sequential dependency of behavioural responses (Otto & Mamassian, 2012). For example, the speed of a response to an auditory signal hugely depends on the sequence of signals that have been presented previously. Strikingly, the contribution of sequential dependencies has been largely neglected in studies investigating neuronal correlates of multisensory processing and may provide a major confounding factor.
The proposed PhD project aims to close this gap by systematically investigating the role of sequential dependency on multisensory processing. The project will follow an interdisciplinary approach. On a first level, we will use a computational modelling approach to analyse behavioural responses, which allows to quantify specific processing interactions with multisensory signals (Otto lab). On a second level, the mathematical modelling approach will then inform the analysis of EEG recordings to gain understanding of the underlying brain functions (Jentzsch lab; e.g., Saunders & Jentzsch, 2012).
The PhD candidate in the project will develop a thorough understanding of brain functions involved in multisensory processing, fundamentals of EEG methodology, and best-practices in experimental design. The project will provide training in several techniques including programming (e.g., Matlab), statistical analysis, and computational modelling, which easily lend themselves to further scientific studies and/or more applied approaches both in industry and academia. The PhD project is suitable for students in Neurosciences and related disciplines including Psychology, Biology, Physics, and Computer Sciences. The successful candidate will have research interests in human sensory processes as well as brain functions underlying perceptual decision making and action control. Prior experience in EEG and/or computational modelling is a plus but not a requirement as training in both disciplines will be provided.
This 4 year PhD project is part of a competition funded by EASTBIO BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership http://www.eastscotbiodtp.ac.uk/how-apply-0. This opportunity is open to UK and International students and provides funding to cover stipend and UK level tuition. For international candidates, the University of St Andrews will cover the Home-International fee difference. Please refer to UKRI website and Annex B of the UKRI Training Grant Terms and Conditions for full eligibility criteria.
As part of your online application please upload the EASTBIO Application Form, academic transcripts, and ensure two references (using the EASTBIO reference form) are provided by the deadline.
Otto & Mamassian (2012). Noise and correlations in parallel perceptual decision making. Current Biology, 22(15), 1391-1396. Saunders & Jentzsch (2012). False external feedback modulates posterror slowing and the f-P300: implications for theories of posterror adjustment. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 19(6), 1210-1216.