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Medial prefrontal cortex brain networks implicated in hallucinations

Department of Psychology

About the Project

Applications are invited for a 3 year PhD studentship starting in October 2021 at the Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, funded jointly by the Rosetrees Trust and Mental Health Research UK.

The successful candidate will conduct research under the supervision of Professor Jon Simons in the Cambridge Memory Laboratory ( The project will investigate the neurocognitive basis of hallucinations, a hallmark symptom of schizophrenia, in which people experience auditory or visual stimuli that are not real. Such phenomena may reflect difficulty discriminating information perceived in the external world from information that is imagined. Previous structural and functional neuroimaging work in the laboratory has linked this discrimination difficulty with the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). Building on these findings, this PhD project will investigate mPFC brain network variations in healthy volunteers and in people with schizophrenia.

PhD students will have the opportunity to gain experience in a range of interdisciplinary cognitive neuroscience methods used in the Memory Laboratory including behavioural studies and computational modelling, functional neuroimaging (fMRI), electrophysiology (EEG/MEG), and brain stimulation (TMS/tDCS). Students will be provided with an extensive training in research methods and techniques, and will be a member of the Cambridge Postgraduate Programme in Cognitive and Brain Sciences which includes regular theoretical seminars and courses.

Eligibility and Funding:

Candidates should have a first or upper second class degree in psychology or neuroscience and meet the University of Cambridge entrance requirements - see:

The studentship will cover a stipend at the standard Research Council rate (£15,285 per annum as at 2020/21), research costs and tuition fees at the UK (Home) rate. All UK citizens or international students who meet the UK residency requirements can apply.

Informal enquiries about the project may be made to Professor Jon Simons ().

Application process:

To apply please:

Complete your application online using the Applicant Portal by 3 December 2020. The course code is BLPC22 (PhD in Psychology).

With your 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 (iii) copies of your academic transcripts (iv) details of two academic referees.

Please inform Mrs Dawn Ellis () when you have made an application, please add ‘Rosetrees/MHRUK Studentship’ to the subject line of your e-mail.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to an interview within two weeks from the application deadline.

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.

Information about the Department and the research interests of members of staff can be found at

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