Optimising functional independence across the life and healthspan using neurostimulation

   Faculty of Biological Sciences

  , ,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Neuroplasticity is integral to recovery and maintenance of functional independence as we age, and even more crucial in individuals with developmental disorders such as Cerebral Palsy and those with injuries to their brain and/or central nervous system (Spinal Cord Injury, Stroke, MS).

Driving and optimising neuroplasticity using task specific practice, and physical activity in combination with neurostimulation is a growing area of research, however we still have many unanswered questions. 

In this project the student will have the option to shape their PhD studies to their interest of choice while aligning it with the academic’s broader research network. Our lab facilities include motion capture, surface and high-density surface EMG, TMS, TDCS, and we can also deliver and measure peripheral and spinal stimulation. We have close links to local hospitals, and the Leeds community, with established collaborations across the University.

 We are particularly interested in students wishing to focus their attention on using brain and spinal stimulation to drive upper limb recovery after spinal cord injury, stroke, and multiple sclerosis. We would also be interested in how these types of stimulation might be combined with other neuroplasticity inducing techniques. This includes robotics, hypoxic training, motor imagery, and exercise paradigms in addition to conventional physiotherapy. 

The lab also has a focus on how we best drive neuroplasticity for maintaining function as we age. We might ask questions such as how physical activity promotes functional independence and prevents falls (see here for an example), or how we combine non-invasive brain function to increase the tolerability of exercise intensity. This work will dovetail with the primary supervisors Reimaging Ageing Network and you would benefit from a pool if interdisciplinary supervisors.        


Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline.

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study. The Faculty of Biological Sciences minimum requirements in IELTS and TOEFL tests are:

  • British Council IELTS - score of 6.0 overall, with no element less than 5.5
  • TOEFL iBT - overall score of 87 with the listening and reading element no less than 20, writing element no less than 21 and the speaking element no less than 22. 

How to apply

To apply for this project applicants should complete an online application form and attach the following documentation to support their application. 

  • a full academic CV
  • degree certificate and transcripts of marks
  • Evidence that you meet the University's minimum English language requirements (if applicable)
  • Evidence of funding

To help us identify that you are applying for this project please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;

  • Select PhD in Biological Sciences as your programme of study
  • Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert

For information about the application process please contact the Faculty Admissions Team:


Biological Sciences (4) Medicine (26) Sport & Exercise Science (33)

Funding Notes

This project is open to applicants who have the funding to support their own studies or who have a sponsor who will cover these costs.

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