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Plasticity of visual processing in primary visual cortex

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  • Full or part time
    Prof L Lagnado
  • 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

The responses of pyramidal neurons in primary visual cortex (V1) of mice are altered under different behavioural states. For instance, multiphoton imaging of neural calcium reporters (GCaMPs) has shown that a visual stimulus activates pyramidal neurons more strongly when the mouse is locomoting or when it is aroused compared to when it is sitting still. This modification of the flow of excitatory signals within V1 is caused by interactives between pyramidal neurons and a diverse population of inhibitory (GABAergic) interneuron.
We will investigate how interneurons modulate responses in primary visual cortex (V1) of mice under different behavioural states and during the learning of a visual task. Learning of a visual task alters the relation between the activity of two particular subtype of interneuron - the VIPs and SSTs - that are reciprocally connected. In particular, we will explore the possibility that in the VIP-SST circuit, one population of interneurons can dominate over the other depending on the stimulus presented and that the strength of these reciprocal synaptic connections is modulated during learning. This project will involve multiphoton imaging of neural and synaptic activity in the visual cortex of awake mice as they learn a visual task.

This project is offered as part of the newly created Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship Programme entitled ’From Sensation and Perception to Awareness’, co-directed by Professor Jamie Ward and Professor Anil Seth at the University of Sussex. Successful applicant will receive a tax free stipend at Research Council rates (currently £14777 per annum), a Home/EU fee waiver and generous research and training costs. On completion of your PhD, our programme alumni will be eligible to apply for one of several 12 month postdoctoral research fellowships at Sussex, available only to completing Leverhulme DSP scholars.
Our doctoral scholars will be immersed in an inter-disciplinary training environment including monthly seminars and an annual student-led conference on a topic related to the theme. A strong emphasis is placed on developing technical skills, and we will provide specialist training in areas such as programming. Students in this new scheme will benefit from links with existing research groups within Sussex such as Sussex Neuroscience and the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science.

How to apply
Full information about the Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship Programme can be found here:

Applicant selecting the project above should develop this into a more detailed research proposal. Guidance on writing a research proposal can be found at Applicant will need to apply through Sussex’s online PhD application form,, to the PhD course linked to the department of your chosen supervisor (i.e. Leon Lagnado, PhD Neuroscience, School of Life Sciences) and enter ’Leverhulme’ in the sources of funding box. Your completed application should include your project proposal, your CV, and any other information requested e.g. degree certificates and transcripts and English language qualifications.

You will also need to complete the Leverhulme Funding application. You can request this by emailing [Email Address Removed]

31 January 2019 - Deadline for applications.
25 - 27 February - Interviews (note that all interviews will be conducted by the programme management committee, which is cross-disciplinary in nature).
4 March - Applicants notified regarding the outcome of their application.

Any questions concerning this research project should be directed to Prof. Leon Lagnado: [Email Address Removed]
Any questions relating to the Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship Programme, or the application process, can be sent to Shelley Jenkins, Senior Doctoral School Coordinator, at [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

Studentships offered under the Leverhulme DSP are competition funded. Successful applicant receive a studentship that covers UK/EU fees and a stipend at standard RCUK rates.

Applicants should be UK or EU citizens and should have/expect to have at least a 2:1 undergraduate honours degree. A master's degree in a relevant discipline is strongly desirable.
Applicants must have a willingness to participate in interdisciplinary training and seminars relating to 'sensation, perception, and awareness'.

Related Subjects

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