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Marie-Curie PhD post: How differences in the earliest social interactions drive emerging cortical specialization

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  • Full or part time
    Prof M Johnson
    Dr S Lloyd-Fox
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

We are seeking a talented early stage researcher (ESRs) wishing to pursue a Ph.D. in the field of developmental psychology and cognitive neuroscience. The position is part of SAPIENS, a pan-European Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (EU Horizon 2020 Programme), which aims to investigate how the dynamics of early social exchanges support the development of the social brain. SAPIENS combines advances in ecological, mobile real-time brain and behaviour measurement, data modelling and artificial intelligence approaches to train a new generation of researchers in implementing these ground-breaking approaches to early social development.

The candidates have to meet (and provide proof that they meet) the following MSC-ITN criteria: 1. Mobility Rule: candidate must not have resided or carried out his/her main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country where the position is based (UK) for more than 12 months in the last 3 years. 2. Early Stage Researcher: the candidate is in the first four years of his/her research career and has not been awarded a doctoral degree. 3. The candidate must have a first degree in psychology, cognitive science, medical physics, mathematics or other related subject, and meet criteria for registration as a PhD student at the University of Cambridge. The ESRs will receive an attractive salary in accordance with the MSCA regulations for Early Stage Researchers.

Working in a team, the successful candidate will investigate how variation in the very earliest postnatal social interactions (hours and days) in human newborns influences the emergence of temporal lobe social brain function using fNIRS and EEG. As this is the phase of life with the most dramatic changes in sensory and interactive experience, it is the best age point of focus for seeking associations with emerging brain function. We will densely sample the social experience and interactions of the newborn in the home environment over this period to determine the association between very early experience and the emergence of specific social responses in the temporal lobe.

We are looking for a talented and motivated ESR (3 years, 100%) who will be supervised by Professor Mark Johnson and Dr Sarah Lloyd-Fox. The project will utilize a range of multidisciplinary techniques to study the developing brain. These include techniques for measuring infant brain development like EEG and NIRS. The successful candidate will be embedded in an active and social group of PhD students and junior and senior researchers with expertise across typical and atypical development. The SAPIENS network also offers a unique program of pan-European training in specialized and generalizable skills on topics such as project management, academic and communication skills, advanced analysis techniques in neuroimaging, typical and atypical brain development, entrepreneurship, translation, career development, and clinical diagnostics.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 3 years in the first instance.

Once an offer of employment has been accepted, the successful candidate will be required to undergo a standard Disclosure and Barring Service check.

Please apply online via our online recruitment system:

In addition, to apply for the PhD. Please complete the University GRADSAF application form. The course code is BLPC22 (PhD in Psychology).

With your GRADSAF application you will be required to submit (i) a draft research proposal outlining your suitability, why you are interested in pursuing a PhD in this area, your background and research interests. (ii) your CV stating your citizenship and years of residence in the UK if applicable (iii) copies of your academic transcripts (iv) details of two academic referees.

Informal enquiries can be made to Mark Johnson ([Email Address Removed]).

Please note the closing date for applications is 17 April 2019. Applications received after this time will not be considered.

Please quote reference PJ18522 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

Further Information
• Further Particulars:

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