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Optogenetic auditory neuroprosthetics

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

Project Description

The cochlear implant is an extremely successful auditory prosthesis to restore hearing, but a significant number of patients cannot benefit from this revolutionary medical device due to the lack of a functional auditory nerve or implantable cochlea. Over the past two decades, alternative auditory prostheses have been developed, called auditory brainstem implants and auditory midbrain implants (AMIs). Unfortunately, their capabilities are still limited compared to the cochlear implant. Therefore, further improvement and alternative approaches are urgently required. To develop a new AMI, this PhD project will utilise our newly developed device, “microscale light-emitting diode (µLED) neural probe” to control brain activity in a spatially and temporally restricted manner combining optogenetic approaches. Applying this novel device in an animal model, this project will investigate if our µLED-based approach is a feasible alternative for the AMI to restore hearing.

Funding Notes

This project is fully funded for three years by the Action on Hearing Loss PhD studentship scheme.

This project will involve both neurobiological and engineering approaches. The successful candidate should have or expect to have an Honours Degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Engineering, Physics, Mathematics, Statistics, Systems Neuroscience or related fields, and should also wish to learn advanced neurobiological skills including optogenetic and in vivo electrophysiological approaches.

In the first instance, candidates may send their application to Dr Shuzo Sakata ([Email Address Removed]), with a CV and cover letter, detailing their motivation for this particular PhD project.


McAlinden N, Gu E, Dawson MD, Sakata S*, and Mathieson K*. (2015). Optogenetic activation of neocortical neurons in vivo with sapphire-based microscale LED probe. Frontiers in Neural Circuits 9:25.

McAlinden N, Massoubre D, Richardson E, Gu E, Sakata S, Dawson MD, and Mathieson K. (2013). Thermal and optical characterization of micro-LED probes for in vivo optogenetic neural stimulation. Optics Letters 38 (6), 992-994.

Sakata S. State-dependent and cell type-specific temporal processing in auditory thalamocortical circuit. Scientific Reports (in press).

Sakata S, and Harris KD. (2012). Laminar-dependent effects of cortical states on auditory cortical spontaneous activity. Frontiers in Neural Circuits 6: 109.

Sakata S, and Harris KD. (2009). Laminar structure of spontaneous and sensory-evoked population activity in auditory cortex. Neuron 64 (3), 404-418.

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