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Self-Portraits: Visualising the Bodily Self-Representation

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, March 01, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

For many centuries, humanity has had a deep fascination with the way in which people depict themselves, as evidenced by the long-running practice of creating self-portraits. Intriguingly, self-portraits have long been understood to be not only a representation of the actual physical appearance of the artist, but also an exploration of the artist’s identity, emotions, and beliefs. How we see ourselves “in our mind’s eye” may therefore give us a unique glimpse into the complex, multidimensional nature of the self-representation. In recent research, using a data-driven reverse correlation technique, we were able to produce unconstrained, richly detailed visualisations of physical self-representations, reflecting participants’ mental pictures of their own facial appearance. These personalised “self-portraits” provide us with a unique glimpse into the structure of self-representation. This project will continue this line of research, and has three core aims. First, it will explore and develop new ways of visualising the physical self-representation in more detail, using reverse correlation and 3D facial image reconstruction techniques. Second, it will use these personalised visualisations to investigate the structure of the self, using both behavioural and neuroscientific methods (including EEG and fMRI). Finally, it could investigate individual differences in self-portraits in terms of their accuracy and patterns of distortion, and potentially tie these in with disorders of selfhood (e.g. body dysmorphia, depersonalisation).

Supervisor: Dr Lara Maister
My research explores self-representation, self-awareness and embodiment. My recent work has focussed on the representation of our own bodies, from two complementary perspectives; first, from the outside, in terms of our physical appearance, and second, from the inside, in terms of our interoceptive sensitivity to internal bodily sensations. An important aspect of my work is to understand how the self is represented in relation to others, and how this determines the way we ‘share’ the embodied experiences of others, such as during empathy for pain, motor mimicry or emotional contagion. I am also interested in how our bodily self-representations interact with more abstract, conceptual self-beliefs to provide a rich, multimodal and coherent experience of the self.

Essential requirements:
• First or upper second class degree in psychology, neuroscience or a cognate subject.
• Strong scientific writing skills
• Excellent analytical skills, with experience of statistical software packages (e.g. SPSS, R)
• Strong interest in the proposed project topic
• Highly motivated and creative
• Organised, independent and with excellent time-management skills
Desirable qualities:
• A Masters level qualification in psychology, neuroscience or a cognate subject.
• Experience with human neuroscience techniques (particularly fMRI and/or EEG)
• Computer Programming experience (e.g. with psychological stimulus presentation packages within Matlab, ePrime or Presentation)

How to apply:
All application must be received through our online application system: https://apps.bangor.ac.uk/applicant/
Applications must contain the following documents:
1. Covering letter: This must include a statement explaining your motivation for applying for this studentship, your aspirations beyond completing a PhD, and why you believe your skills and experience would make you well-suited for the position.
2. References: All applications require two academic references to be submitted in support. Candidates must approach referees themselves and include the references with their application.
3. Curriculum Vitae:
4. Research Proposal: This should be between 3 and 4 pages in length (12pt, double-line spaced). It should broadly refer to either one of the two possible projects above, but there is scope for flexibility so it can include alternative related ideas. It must contain (i) your reflections on the aims and purpose of the research, and what aspects particularly interest you; (ii) your proposals for specific research questions, developing the designs and methods of the project; (iii) your ideas with regards to potential results, and their impact on our understanding; and (iv) potential follow-up studies. See the following webpage for guidance on how to prepare a proposal: https://www.bangor.ac.uk/pgapplied/proposal-advice.php.en)

Informal enquiries regarding the project should be directed to: .

Funding Notes

The studentship will commence from September 2020. It includes a payment of tuition fees, a maintenance allowance (approximately £15,009 p.a. for 2020/21) for full-time students, updated each year, as well as a generous research allowance per annum. The project outlined below is one of two potential projects offered by Dr. Maister, only one of which will be funded according to the preference of the successful candidate.

How good is research at Bangor University in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 21.60

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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