This Scholarship is funded by BRACE - Alzheimer’s Research (Registered Charity 297965).
Subject areas: Sleep, memory and memory consolidation, cognitive function, auditory/visual mismatch negativity, ageing, Vascular Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease and mixed dementia
Supervisors: Professor Mark Blagrove and Professor Andrea Tales
Start date: January 2020
Sleep influences cognitive integrity and lack of it appears to be a risk factor for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. The detrimental effects on memory appear to occur as a result of inadequate removal of brain neurotoxins/amyloid. Early stages of dementia are related to a decrease in sleep length, which worsens the dementia and cognitive function by decreasing the removal of these substances. Sleep disturbance is increasingly recognised as a risk factor for vascular dementia. A result, at least in part, due to the detrimental effects of sleep abnormalities upon blood vessel health and thus oxygen transportation to the brain. Sleep therefore appears to detrimentally affect memory and cognition in both Alzheimer’s disease and in vascular dementia but possibly via different mechanisms. This raises the question of whether individuals with Mixed dementia (Alzheimer’s and vascular) have detrimental contributions from both mechanisms (namely failure of amyloid clearance and poorer vasculature). We aim therefore to investigate sleep quantity and quality in individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and mixed dementia and healthy controls (We predict that those with mixed dementia will reveal the greatest level of sleep disruption) and to determine the relationship between sleep and of cognitive function in these 3 types of dementia. It is increasingly apparent how important the very basic or automatic aspects of information processing are and how these can be affected in dementia. This type of processing has rarely been investigated with respect to sleep and especially not in people living with vascular and mixed dementia. A further aim is therefore to investigate, using EEG techniques, the relationship between sleep, memory consolidation and cognition and the functional integrity of pre-attentive information processing, i.e., visual and auditory automatic mismatch negativity.
You will be expected to derive novel research questions from your readings of the literature, your contacts with other researchers, and your interactions with your supervisors. You will be expected to become familiar with all areas of research into dementia, sleep, memory, and psychophysiological measures including mismatch negativity. You will run experiments, some of which will be all night studies in the sleep laboratory, and you will disseminate your findings at conferences and through publications and your final thesis.
For more information, please visit the Swansea University Sleep Lab.
Eligibility Candidates must have a first or upper second class honours in Neuroscience, Psychology or similar, and an MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience, Experimental Psychology, or similar.
Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to UK/EU candidates only.
Please visit our website for more information on eligibility.
This scholarship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend of £15,009 per annum.
There will be additional funds available for research expenses.