Our sense of balance is signalled by the vestibular system. We use this vestibular sense when we go to the bathroom at night since it helps us to keep upright and keep our sense of direction. When this sense is lost, we might fall over or become disorientated, as happens in older adults or people with a higher than normal degree of day-to-day dizziness. To put the contribution of the vestibular system into perspective, when we lose this sense acutely through an infection, the ensuing vertigo is accompanied by wobbly eye movements (nystagmus), significant postural imbalance and vomiting.
As approximately 30% of older adults over the age of 65 years will have experienced a fall in the previous year, and 50% over 85 years of age, there is a real need to explore the precise aetiology of falls in older adults and specifically the contribution played by the vestibular system. The vestibular sense declines with older age and this could be attributed to a loss of peripheral nerve function or vestibular cortical (perceptual) sensitivity. This project aims to study the interaction between the peripheral and cortical networks in older adults, young adults and people who experience a higher than normal degree of day-to-day dizziness. The successful candidate will use methods such as vestibular stimulation, vibration, motion analysis, gait adaptability, virtual reality, electrooculography, navigation tasks and computer based tasks to probe these features.
We welcome applications from self-funded students who are highly motivated at any time. Applicants should have a recognised BSc Honours or Masters Degree with a 2.1 or equivalent in Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience, Audiology, Medical Science, Neurophysiology, Sports Science, Human Physiology, Biomechanics or a related field. Candidates will need to be willing to work with participants and patients. Part time or full time candidates will be considered.
Eligibility: Applicants whose entry award was not delivered in English, or is a non-native speaker on English, shall be required to demonstrate proficiency in English at least to the level of an IELTS score of 7.0 or its equivalent.