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Specialized cortical circuits for representation of three-dimensional visual space

  • Full or part time
    Dr P Znamenskiy
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, November 12, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

This 4-year PhD studentship is offered in Dr Petr Znamenskiy ’s Group based at the Francis Crick Institute (the Crick).

Biological neural circuits are products of millions of years of evolution that have shaped them to perform tasks essential for animals’ survival. These adaptations are controlled by genes, the only tools available to evolution, and are implemented by neurons with distinct patterns of input and output connectivity. My lab is interested in understanding how behavior emerges as the product of the concerted activity of specialized classes of neurons, how their responses arise as the product of their synaptic connections, and how these connections are patterned by genetic and activity-dependent wiring rules during development.

To answer these questions, we study the primary visual cortex (V1) as a model. To successfully navigate the environment, forage for food, identify conspecifics or threats, the brain must infer the 3D structure of the visual scene based on the incomplete information present in the two-dimensional images formed on the retinae. We are trying to understand how specialized classes of V1 neurons that send outputs to different target areas process these signals and extract the information necessary to guide behavior.

Projects in the lab will seek to uncover how different cell types in V1 contribute to animals’ perception of three-dimensional visual space and link the functional properties, connectivity, and gene expression patterns of these cells. Combining the tools of calcium imaging, high throughput connectivity mapping using molecular barcodes, and optogenetics in behaving animals, they will aim to answer fundamental questions about how the brain uses sensory signals to build internal representations of the external world and provide mechanistic insights into neural circuits underlying these computations.

This project would suit candidates with a background in Neuroscience, Biology, Cognitive Science, Biomedical Engineering, Physics or a related field. Experience in electrophysiology, two-photon imaging, molecular biology, bioinformatics, or computer programming would be an advantage.

Talented and motivated students passionate about doing research are invited to apply for this PhD position. The successful applicant will join the Crick PhD Programme in September 2020 and will register for their PhD at one of the Crick partner universities (Imperial College London, King’s College London or UCL).

Applicants should hold or expect to gain a first/upper second-class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject and have appropriate research experience as part of, or outside of, a university degree course and/or a Masters degree in a relevant subject.


Funding Notes

Successful applicants will be awarded a non-taxable annual stipend of £22,000 plus payment of university tuition fees. Students of all nationalities are eligible to apply.


1. Znamenskiy, P., Kim, M.-H., Muir, D. R., Iacaruso, M. F., Hofer, S. B. and Mrsic-Flogel, T. D. (2018)
Preprint: Functional selectivity and specific connectivity of inhibitory neurons in primary visual cortex.
Available at: BioRxiv.
2. Kim, M.-H., Znamenskiy, P., Iacaruso, M. F. and Mrsic-Flogel, T. D. (2018)
Segregated subnetworks of intracortical projection neurons in primary visual cortex.
Neuron 100: 1313-1321 e1316. PubMed abstract
3. Han, Y., Kebschull, J. M., Campbell, R. A. A., Cowan, D., Imhof, F., Zador, A. M. and Mrsic-Flogel, T. D. (2018)
The logic of single-cell projections from visual cortex.
Nature 556: 51-56. PubMed abstract
4. Tasic, B., Yao, Z., Graybuck, L. T., Smith, K. A., Nguyen, T. N., Bertagnolli, D., . . . Zeng, H. (2018)
Shared and distinct transcriptomic cell types across neocortical areas.
Nature 563: 72-78. PubMed abstract

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