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Investigating infant sleep to understand Autism Spectrum Disorders (GligaTU20PSY)


Faculty of Social Sciences

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Dr T Gliga No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Learning difficulties double the economic cost of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) but their biological causes are poorly understood. In this PhD, supervised by Dr. Teodora Gliga (Psychology) and Dr. Alpar Lazar (Health Sciences), you will investigate whether sensory hypersensitivity, which is common in this disorder, impairs the key role that sleep has in learning consolidation. In particular, we will investigate the hypothesis that a failure to filter out sensory input during sleep interferes with the critical role it has in off-line plasticity and learning consolidation, with knock-on effects on cognitive development.

As part of your doctoral training, you will carry out experimental work with both typically developing infants and infants at higher likelihood for neurodevelopmental disorders. You will have access to bespoke research facilities in the School of Psychology (http://www.uea.ac.uk/developmental-dynamics-lab/research-facilities) and in the school of Health Sciences (The Sleep Lab: https://www.uea.ac.uk/health-sciences/innovation/facilities/sbru). You will learn how to use a variety of methods including polysomnography and eye-tracking and will gain advanced data analytical skills. You will work as part of a diverse team which has the aim to develop new technologies for monitoring and improving sleep.

This PhD will suit you if you have a background in psychology, cognitive sciences or medical/clinical sciences. Ideally, you will have a first-class undergraduate degree and a postgraduate qualification that included a research project e.g., MSc or MRes. Evidence of research output (e.g., contribution to peer-reviewed publication, newsletter article, conference presentation) would be advantageous. Good writing skills are essential.

Informal enquiries may be made directly to Dr. Teodora Gliga ([Email Address Removed]).

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please go here: https://people.uea.ac.uk/t_gliga

This is a PhD programme.

The start date of this project is 20 January 2020.

The mode of study is full-time/part-time. The length of studentship is 3 years for full-time students and 6 years for part-time students.

Funding Notes

This PhD project is in a School of Psychology competition for funded studentships. These studentships are funded for 3 years and comprise of home/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend of £15,009.

Entry requirements:

Acceptable first degree in Psychology, cognitive sciences or relevant other discipline.

The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1.

Masters or equivalent experience.

References

i) Weblink to the research group: www.gligalab.co.uk

ii) Gliga, T., Jones, E. J., Bedford, R., Charman, T., & Johnson, M. H. (2014). From early markers to neuro-developmental mechanisms of autism. Developmental Review, 34(3), 189-207.

iii) Gliga, T., Bedford, R., Charman, T., Johnson (2015). Enhanced visual search in infancy predicts emerging autism symptoms. Current Biology, 25(13), 1727-1730.

iv) Lázár, A. S., Lázár, Z. I., Bíró, A., Győri, M., Tárnok, Z., Prekop, C., ... & Bódizs, R. (2010). Reduced fronto-cortical brain connectivity during NREM sleep in Asperger syndrome: An EEG spectral and phase coherence study. Clinical neurophysiology, 121(11), 1844-1854.

v) Tzischinsky, O., Meiri, G., Manelis, L., Bar-Sinai, A., Flusser, H., Michaelovski, A., ... & Dinstein, I. (2018). Sleep disturbances are associated with specific sensory sensitivities in children with autism. Molecular autism, 9(1), 22


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