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Limits of processing and plasticity of mechanisms leading to Blindsight


   School of Psychology

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  Prof A Sahraie  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Lesions of the occipital cortex disrupts the flow of visual information from geniculo-striate pathway, to the higher brain areas, often leading to partial loss of sight. Previous research from our laboratory as well as others have shown that patients may retain the ability to correctly detect some visual features presented in the blind field, even when they report the absence of any awareness of the events. This ability is termed Blindsight. In healthy brain there are at least nine other routes that convey the visual input to other brain structures. The blindsight performance is often attributed to the function of these unaffected parallel pathways. We have also shown evidence for plasticity within the blind field. Repeated visual stimulation can lead to changes in sensitivity in the blind field and is a feasible method for developing rehabilitation techniques. The project aims to investigate the limits of residual processing after occipital brain injury by systematically determining the parameters that affect relative unconscious saliency/detectability of features, using a range of behavioural techniques, including psychophysical, eye-movement and physiological recordings. The project will also aims to address the feasibility of using repeated stimulation of visual feature detection as a tool for changing sensitivity and rehabilitation of vision loss.

Candidates must hold (or be expected to obtain) an Upper Second Class honours degree in Psychology or cognate discipline as a minimum requirement. Additional research experience would be an advantage. Applications must be made through the University of Aberdeen applicant portal: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/apply.php. Applications must include: 1) An on-line form completed through the applicant portal. 2) A project proposal, maximum length 1 x A4 page including background, aims and suggestions for 2-3 studies to address the aims. A reference list can be added on a second page if you wish. Applicants can liaise with the supervisor when developing their proposal. 3) Two academic references – please attach the references to the application or include full referee contact details. 4) A CV outlining your academic qualifications and research experience to date. If possible, it would be useful to add an academic transcript.
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