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Inner speech in post-stroke aphasia

   Faculty of Science & Engineering

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  Dr Sharon Geva, Prof P Bright, Dr Eldré Beukes  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The position offers an exciting opportunity to join a team studying the neuroscience of inner speech, directed by Dr. Sharon Geva. Inner speech refers to the everyday experience of speaking silently in one’s head. You will be using state-of-the-art neuroimaging and behavioural techniques to study inner speech in both neurotypical adults and stroke patients with speech and language difficulties (aphasia).

You will assess how and when inner speech is used, and how it is related to other language abilities, cognitive functions, and imagery. Through work with stroke survivors and stroke clinicians (e.g., neuropsychologists, speech and language therapists, neurologists) you will also assess how inner speech measurements can contribute to aphasia diagnosis, prognosis, and planning of rehabilitation programmes.

The project will include:

  • Developing tools for measuring inner speech, and testing neurotypical adults
  • Adapting the tests for administration to stroke patients with aphasia, through focus groups
  • Testing patients with aphasia (this may require travelling within the local area)
  • Analysing structural and functional MRI data
  • Liaising with clinical teams and stroke charities
  • Communicating the project findings through scientific papers and conferences, and through public engagement activities

Key Objectives

This research project will (i) fill in gaps in knowledge on inner speech in post-stroke aphasia, enhancing our understanding of both aphasia and neurotypical language processing; (ii) incorporate measurements of inner speech into clinical practice, to improve diagnosis of aphasia; (iii) define the neural correlates of inner speech production using structural and functional MRI. 

Experience and skills

We invite applicants with background in neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, computer sciences, speech and language sciences, or other related disciplines. Knowledge of statistical methods is essential. Experience in neuroimaging (e.g. MRI) is preferable, although training will be provided. The project requires working with stroke patients with aphasia, their families / carers, and stroke clinicians, through liaison with clinical teams and stroke-related charities. The successful candidate should therefore demonstrate enthusiasm for public engagement work and ability to travel within the local area.

The student will benefit from the expertise of our colleagues in the University of Oxford, University College London (UCL), and University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, and will have the opportunity to develop skills in MRI analysis, neuropsychological testing, and working with clinical populations.

About the Team and the School

The supervisory team for this project includes Dr Sharon Geva, Professor Peter Bright and Dr Eldré Beukes. Dr Geva is an experienced researcher with leading publications on inner speech processing and aphasia. She has previously supervised projects on aphasia and language processing, involving various neuroimaging techniques. Prof Peter Bright is a highly established neuropsychologist with a publication record spanning more than 25 years. Dr Eldré Beukes has a strong research background in improving outcomes for individuals with disabilities for which she has won 4 national prizes. She has more than 75 peer-reviewed manuscripts and authored two textbooks.

As a PhD student, you will join a dynamic community of post-graduate students, based in the School of Psychology and Sport Science, situated in the heart of Cambridge. Our School is equipped with specialist labs housing state-of-the-art equipment for monitoring emotional and physiological responses, including eyetracker, driving simulator, Oculus Rift VR headset, EEG, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and other technologies. You will be part of the ARU Centre for Mind and Behaviour.

If you would like to discuss this research project please contact Dr Sharon Geva, [Email Address Removed]

Candidate requirements

Applications are invited from UK home fee status only. Applicants should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum upper second class undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in a cognate discipline. A Master’s degree in a relevant subject is desirable.

Applicants must be prepared to study on a full-time basis, attending at our Cambridge campus.

Application Procedures

Applications for a Vice Chancellor’s PhD Scholarship are made through the application portal on our website: https://aru.ac.uk/research/postgraduate-research/vc-phd-scholarships

We will review all applications after the submission deadline of 19th March. We will contact shortlisted applicants in the week commencing 3rd April. Interviews will be held between 17th April to 2nd May.

If you have any queries relating to the application process or the terms and conditions of the Scholarships, please email [Email Address Removed].

Documentation required

You will need the following documents available electronically to upload them to the application portal (we can accept files in pdf, jpeg or Word format):

  • Certificates and transcripts from your Bachelor and Master’s degrees, (if applicable)
  • Your personal statement explaining your suitability for the project
  • Passport and visa, or evidence of EU Settlement Scheme (if applicable)
  • Curriculum Vitae

Please note the application form will ask you to upload a research proposal. You should upload your personal statement in this section, as proposals are not required for this scholarship.

Funding Notes

Applications are open to Home fee status students only. This successful applicant for this project will receive a Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship award which covers Home tuition fees and provides a UKRI equivalent minimum annual stipend for three years. The award is subject to the successful candidate meeting the studentship Terms and conditions which can be found on our website: https://aru.ac.uk/research/postgraduate-research/vc-phd-scholarships
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