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Neurocognitive mechanisms of person perception

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, March 01, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description


Project rationale and description: Prof Downing’s research is in the area of social perception: What are the neurocognitive mechanisms that transform perceptual data into reliable, socially-relevant signals about the people around us? Some recent and current studies in the lab examine: how the multimodal representations of action are integrated in the brain; how states and traits such as sex, age, gender, weight, and emotion are extracted from the shape and movements of the body; how the presence of other people shapes our attention to the surrounding scene; how frontal and temporal regions coordinate in perception of human faces; and how body-selective regions of the temporal lobes capture our knowledge of possible human postures. The work involves a combination of psychophysical, TMS, and fMRI approaches. Please see our website for more information about the lab and our work.

Recent relevant papers include:
Peelen, M. V., & Downing, P. E. (2017). Category selectivity in human visual cortex: Beyond visual object recognition. Neuropsychologia, 105, 177-183.

Harry, B. B., Umla-Runge, K., Lawrence, A. D., Graham, K. S., & Downing, P. E. (2016). Evidence for integrated visual face and body representations in the anterior temporal lobes. Journal of cognitive neuroscience, 28(8), 1178-1193.

Lingnau, A., & Downing, P. E. (2015). The lateral occipitotemporal cortex in action. Trends in cognitive sciences, 19(5), 268-277.

Facilities: The student will be a member of the School’s thriving Social Neuroscience research group, which meets regularly to present and discuss planned and ongoing projects as well as important developments in the field. More widely, the School benefits from an excellent research environment, with a large community of PhD students and research-active faculty, regular lab meetings, seminars, and visiting speakers, and extensive facilities for behavioural and neuroscientific studies, including a research-dedicated 3T MRI centre and associated TMS suite.

Requirements: Prof Downing seeks excellent candidates with related interests. Essential criteria include excellent communication skills, a strong grasp of experimental psychology and/or social-cognitive neuroscience, and a good MSc degree in Psychology or a related discipline. Programming skills (e.g. in Matlab) are desirable, especially if your interests are in fMRI.

Residency requirements: This studentship is open to UK/EU students only.

Further information: Informal enquiries should be directed to Please include your CV and brief summary of your research interests.

General enquiries: For general advice about how to apply and eligibility please contact

Apply Now: The online application form is available here https://apps.bangor.ac.uk/applicant/.

Bangor Doctoral School website: https://www.bangor.ac.uk/doctoral-school/

Funding Notes

Applications are invited for a three-year fully funded PhD studentship in the School of Psychology, Bangor University.

Funding amount: Tax-free stipend of approximately £14,800 per annum plus tuition fees and a research allowance

How good is research at Bangor University in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 21.60

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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