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Neural circuit mechanisms of sensory modulations during flexible behaviours

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  • Full or part time
    Dr A Khan
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This studentship will investigate how sensory processing in the visual cortex is modified by top-down signals from higher cortical areas during flexible, cognitive behaviours. Mice possess sophisticated cognitive abilities, and are capable of rapidly switching between different behavioural contexts, for example, between attending to or ignoring the same visual stimuli. We have recently shown that this attention-switching behaviour results in changes to sensory signal processing in the mouse primary visual cortex depending on the attentional state of the animal (Poort, Khan et al 2015). However, the source of this modulation, and how this modulatory signal interacts with the local visual cortical circuit is not known, and will be explored in this project.

To address this question, the project will employ a combination of technical approaches in the mouse nervous system. State-of-the-art chronic in-vivo two photon calcium imaging of multiple cell classes, targeted optogenetic manipulations and viral vector based functional circuit mapping will be combined with quantitative mouse behaviour. The studentship will also involve broad communication and dissemination of research results to a range of audiences.

The studentship will be supervised by Dr Adil Khan as part of a new research team investigating the neural circuits underlying flexible behaviours in mice. The lab is based at the Centre for Developmental Neurobiology at Guy’s Campus in central London, an internationally-recognised centre of excellence for the study of development and function of brain circuits in health and disease.

Start date: 1st October 2018.

Entry requirements:

Applicants should have a 2:1 or 1st class honours degree in a subject relevant to the proposed project. A 2:2 degree may be considered only where applicants also offer a Masters degree with Merit.

Applicants should have undertaken an extended laboratory-based research project in a relevant area, and ideally will also have expertise and experience in quantitative analysis of their data. Strong applicants will also have experience in programming and neural data analysis, a track record of peer-reviewed publication, and will be able to demonstrate effective team-working skills.

Applicants must complete and submit an online admissions application, via the admissions portal by midnight (23:59 GMT), Tuesday 1st May 2018.
On the ‘Choosing a programme’ page, please select ‘Research degrees’ and enter the keyword ‘Neurobiology’, then select ‘MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology Research MPhil/PhD (Full-time)’.

In your application, you will be asked to include:

• Academic Transcripts – where applicable, academic transcripts must be submitted with the online admissions application
• Details of your qualifications (you will need to attach copies)
• Details of previous employment
• A personal statement describing your interests and why you wish to apply for this project. Please include this as an attachment rather than using the text box.
Please include a section in your personal statement about your favourite “complex behaviour” in any animal and how we might understand its neural basis (400 word limit).
• Academic References – all admissions applications require two supporting references. If the applicant is relying on his/her referees to submit references directly to the College after he/she has submitted his/her admissions application, then the applicant must ensure that their chosen referees are made aware of the funding deadline.

In the Funding section, please tick box 5 and include the following reference: AK-CDN-2018.

Please note there is no need to complete the Research Proposal section in your application as the project has already been set.

You are welcome to email Dr Adil Khan (supervisor; khan.adil[at] for more information regarding the project and studentship.

References must be received by the deadline for the applicant to be eligible.

Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis.

Funding Notes

The studentship will cover the following:
Course fees (Home/EU rate only)
Stipend (approx. £20,600)
Contribution towards research costs, training and conference attendance.


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