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Neuroimaging genetics for economic and strategic choice

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

Project Description

Applications are invited for a full-time (3 years) PhD position at Warwick University on “neuroimaging genetics for economic and strategic choice” commencing in October 2017.

The project will be developed under the supervision of Prof. Feng (Warwick and Fudan) and Dr. Massaro (Warwick), at the Department of Computer Science and Warwick Business School, respectively. This project is part of an ongoing research endeavour developed with Prof. Rustichini at the University of Minnesota, Economics, and involving other Departments at Warwick (Economics, Engineering, Statistics, etc). The candidate will be based at Warwick University, however due to the nature of project may be required to occasionally travel to Minnesota and/or Shanghai.

The project
This PhD project undertakes a multidisciplinary approach to advance the current understanding of the biological basis of human economic and strategic decision making. The overarching question of this PhD project is: How do genes, brain activity, and behaviour relate to one another to explain the underpinnings of economic and strategic choice? Behavioral, physiological, structural and functional brain imaging, as well as genetic data will be analyzed in an integrated way to identify the biological origins and pathways expressed in brain activity and associated to specific economic and strategic tasks. Depending on their background, the candidate will join this project by contributing to the development of the genetic (GWAS), statistical (classic and Bayesian), neuroimaging (fMRI), and/or computational aspects of the project.

Candidate specification
- We seek to recruit a highly motivated student with very strong numeracy and/or experimental skills. The ideal candidate will have a first class (or equivalent) Master degree (awarded/expected) from a reputed University in a discipline relevant to the project (mathematics, physics, computer science, cognitive sciences, genetics, neuroscience, bioinformatics, economics).
- Interest in the study of strategic decision-making and neuroeconomics, and former experience with genetic analyses, fMRI data analysis, and/or computational neuroscience methods are desirable.
- Proficiency in oral and written English is required according to the University Regulations (

How to apply
- Candidates interested in this project shall initially contact Dr. Massaro via email ([Email Address Removed]) including a copy of their CVs (with the name of 2 referees), and specifying if self-funded or seeking a scholarship, by the 20th of January 2017.
- Following this, shortlisted candidates will be contacted for an informal interview. Pending a positive outcome the candidate will be endorsed for application to the highly-competitive Bridges Programme (see below). Being endorsed does not guarantee funding/a placement in the Bridges Programme.
- Due to the high amount of applications expected if you do not hear back by the 1st of February 2017 you should consider the application unsuccessful.

Funding Notes

- Shortlisted candidates will be endorsed for application to the Bridges Programme at the University of Warwick. The Bridges Programme aims to provide PhD students with deep knowledge of contemporary research questions in the social sciences, and rigorous training in the mathematical and computational approaches needed to answer them. The Trust has a particular interest in supporting UK or EU students.
More information can be found here (
- Other UK/EU scholarships may be available at the University of Warwick for 2017/18 intake. Please see the website for deadlines and instructions (
- Applications from self-funded candidates are welcome.


-Grazioplene, R. G., G Ryman, S., Gray, J. R., Rustichini, A., Jung, R. E., & DeYoung, C. G. (2015). Subcortical intelligence: Caudate volume predicts IQ in healthy adults. Human brain mapping, 36(4), 1407-1416.
-Jia, T., Macare, C., Desrivières, S., Gonzalez, D. A., Tao, C., Ji, X., ... & Bokde, A. L. (2016). Neural basis of reward anticipation and its genetic determinants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(14), 3879-3884.
-Mukherjee, S., Montgomery, G., Nyholt, D., Oostra, B. A., Palmer, L., Miller, M., ... & McGue, M. (2016). GWAS of 126,559 Individuals Identifies Genetic Variants Associated with Educational Attainment. Science, 340(6139).
-Okbay, A., Beauchamp, J. P., Fontana, M. A., Lee, J. J., Pers, T. H., Rietveld, C. A., ... & Oskarsson, S. (2016). Genome-wide association study identifies 74 loci associated with educational attainment. Nature, 533(7604), 539-542.
-Richiardi, J., Altmann, A., Milazzo, A. C., Chang, C., Chakravarty, M. M., Banaschewski, T., ... & Conrod, P. (2015). Correlated gene expression supports synchronous activity in brain networks. Science, 348(6240), 1241-1244.

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