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Neural Mechanisms of Motor Impulse Control in Parkinson’s Disease


Project Description

3rd supervisor: Dr John-Stuart Brittain

The ability to control our urges and impulses is an essential social skill, but is impaired in a diverse range of neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease (PD). People with PD can show a high incidence of impulse control disorders which manifest as addictive and destructive behaviours. Identifying risk factors that predict these impulse control disorders requires a better understanding of the complex neural mechanisms underlying impaired motor impulse control behaviour in PD. Our project will contribute to this understanding by utilising a multi-modal approach to examine measures of impulsivity at the level of the muscle, motor cortex and prefrontal brain areas.
The work will involve a combination of behavioural, electromyography, non-invasive brain stimulation (transcranial magnetic stimulation), electroencephalography and computational modelling techniques to investigate impulse control mechanisms in people with PD and healthy age-matched controls. This project therefore has an emphasis on interdisciplinary skills due to the combination of clinical neuroscience, cognitive psychology and motor control. Quantitative skills are a particularly prominent aspect of the research, with a focus on TMS and EEG analysis techniques. The student will gain training in advanced statistical analyses and computational modelling to quantify relationships between the diverse range of data that they will collect and analyse, so experience of or a willingness to learn Matlab is required. We are pairing with MagVenture UK Ltd who will provide state-of-the art non-invasive brain stimulation technology and the opportunity for a work placement during the doctoral work, providing insight into the commercial side of research development.

Person Specification
Applicants should have a strong background in neuroscience/cognitive psychology, and ideally a background in non-invasive brain stimulation and experience with clinical populations or working in a rehabilitation setting. They should have a commitment to research in neuroscience/clinical neuroscience and currently hold at least an Upper Second Class Honours Degree in neuroscience/psychology, with a MSc in a relevant area being preferable.

Funding Notes

Please check the MRC website for full eligibility criteria View Website

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.40

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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