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Information processing in the social brain

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  • Full or part time
    Dr E von dem Hagen
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Social signals, like faces and eye gaze, are a key source of information that we continuously encounter in our everyday lives. They guide our social interactions by providing vital cues about another person, from their direction of attention to their current emotional state.

This PhD project will adopt novel approaches from social neuroscience to study key factors underlying social interactions, applying both behavioural and neuroimaging methods. The project will look at the processing of social signals, particularly eye gaze, and how this information is integrated with other social cues, within and across modalities. There is also the possibility to extend this research to investigate how the perception and integration of social signals differs in developmental psychopathologies like Autism.

The successful candidate will be supervised by Dr Elisabeth von dem Hagen. The candidate will be part of a world-class research community in cognitive neuroscience and MR applications and will have access to state-of-the-art neuroimaging research facilities, including eye-tracking technology, 3T and 7T MRI scanners, a purpose-built microstructural scanner, and EEG/MEG testing labs (see

School studentship funding is highly competitive. In view of the limited number of awards and the very high standard of applications received, successful applicants are likely to have a very good first degree (a First or Upper Second class BSc Honours or equivalent).

Funding Notes

The studentship will commence in October 2017, and will cover your tuition fees (at UK/EU level) as well as a maintenance grant. In 2016-17 the maintenance grant for full-time students was £14,296 per annum. As well as tuition fees and a maintenance grant, research costs will be covered and you will receive conference funding (approx. £2250 for the duration of the studentship). You will also receive a computer and office space. Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open to UK Nationals and EU students. International students will typically be eligible for a UK/EU equivalent award only.


You will be an enthusiastic, motivated, and innovative individual. You will have, or expect to gain, a first class/good upper second degree, or a distinction/merit at masters level, in psychology, biology, neuroscience, or engineering/computer science (with a keen interest in cognitive neuroscience). You will have excellent technical skills. Some research experience in neuroimaging, particularly fMRI/MRI analyses, is desirable, but not necessary. Equally, programming skills (e.g. Matlab) are desirable but not essential as long as you have the enthusiasm and aptitude to learn.

You will also need to have good written and oral communication skills, and be able to work in a team.

Dr von dem Hagen’s research is based in the School of Psychology (, the Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (, and the Wales Autism Research Centre ( The School of Psychology at Cardiff is one of the largest and strongest in the UK. In the 2014 research excellence framework, Cardiff was one of the UK's top three universities for its world-leading research in psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience. The school was ranked 40th in the 2014 QS World University Rankings. The newly opened imaging centre CUBRIC is one of the largest and technologically most advanced in Europe. The School and CUBRIC have state-of-the art testing facilities, a world-class community of cognitive neuroscience researchers and a thriving postgraduate research group. The School of Psychology has an Athena SWAN Silver Award that recognises good employment practice and a commitment to all stages of career development.

Cardiff is a thriving city in very close proximity to the beautiful Welsh coast ( and countryside ( It has a two-hour rail link to London and easy access to airports at Cardiff and Bristol. Please consult the School's web pages for more information.
No separate application is necessary – consideration is automatic on applying for a PhD in Psychology, with an Oct 2017 start date (programme code RFPDPSYA).
Please use our online application service and specify in the funding section that you wish to be considered for School funding.

Application deadline: 1st May 2017 with decisions being made in early June 2017.

How good is research at Cardiff University in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 69.33

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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