Project rationale and description: My research is in the area of social perception: What are the neurocognitive mechanisms that transform visual signals into reliable, socially-relevant signals about the people around us? With my colleagues I have explored this question by applying psychophysical, fMRI, and TMS methods to study face, body, and action perception. For example, some recent and current studies in the lab examine: how visual, semantic, and motor aspects of actions are represented in the brain; how states and traits such as sex, age, weight, and emotion are inferred from the appearance of the body; how the presence of other people shapes our pattern of attention within a scene; how frontal and temporal brain regions coordinate in perception of human faces; and how body-selective regions of the temporal lobes capture our knowledge of possible human postures.
I seek a skilled and motivated student with shared interests to jointly develop and carry out a series of studies within this exciting and fast-moving area.
Recent relevant papers include the following. More information is available on the lab website.
Peelen, M. V., & Downing, P. E. (2017). Category selectivity in human visual cortex: Beyond visual object recognition. Neuropsychologia, 105, 177-183.
Johnstone, L. T., & Downing, P. E. (2017). Dissecting the visual perception of body shape with the Garner selective attention paradigm. Visual Cognition, 25(4-6), 507-523.
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.
Downing, P. E., & Peelen, M. V. (2016). Body selectivity in occipitotemporal cortex: Causal evidence. Neuropsychologia, 83, 138-148.
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 shared interests and some relevant experience in social perception. 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. Some programming skills are highly desirable, especially if your interests are in fMRI.
In your application, please include your CV and a brief (1-2 pages) description of your research interests related to social perception: what general research questions in this area attract you? What kinds of approaches might you want to take to answer them?
Further information: Informal enquiries about the studentship should be directed to [email protected]
General enquiries: For general advice about how to apply and eligibility please contact [email protected]
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/