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Studying the neural mechanisms underlying subjective perception


   Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging Institute of Neurology

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  Dr Peter Kok  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a 3-year funded PhD studentship in the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging (WCHN; https://www.fil.ion.ucl.ac.uk/) under the supervision of Dr. Peter Kok, PI of the Visual Perception group (https://www.fil.ion.ucl.ac.uk/team/visual-perception-team/). The anticipated start date is 1st February 2023.

The WCHN conducts cutting-edge brain research using two 3T Siemens Prisma MRI scanners, a 7T Siemens Terra MRI scanner, a SQUID magnetoencephalography (MEG) system, and a dedicated optically-pumped MEG (OP-MEG) scanning suite.

Project details

One of the most intriguing questions in contemporary neuroscience is how the brain gives rise to our visual perception of the world. A major insight from the past decades is that visual perception is strongly influenced by our prior knowledge and expectations. However, the neural mechanisms underlying this process are largely unknown. Dr Peter Kok’s research uses a combination of state-of-the-art neuroimaging techniques (MEG, 7T fMRI) to shed light on this.

We seek a highly motivated individual to join us in exploiting the exciting opportunities afforded by MEG and 7T fMRI to study the neural substrates of visual perception. The successful candidate will conduct experiments probing, for example, time-resolved decoding of the neural dynamics underlying integrating of expectations with sensory inputs (using MEG) and/or layer-specific responses in visual cortex and hippocampal subfield contributions to generating expectations (using 7T fMRI).

Funding notes

The starting date is anticipated to be 1st February 2023, and the contract is for 36 months. The studentship is funded by an ERC Starting Grant and includes an annual stipend (£22,278 in year 1, £24,093 in year 2, £26,057 in year 3). The stipend will be supplemented to compensate for UK rate tuition fees (approximately £5,690 per year). Overseas and EU students are encouraged to apply but will need to provide confirmation that the student can pay the fee difference for the full three years of study and should be included as part of the application (as guidance only, this is currently approximately £21,000 per year). Guidance on PhD fees at the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology can be found here:

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/students/fees-and-funding/pay-your-fees/fee-schedules/2022-2023/postgraduate-research-fees-2022-2023

The ERC Grant will also cover all research costs and travel and accommodation for attending conferences and workshops.

Entry requirements

Applicants must have an honours degree (2.1 minimum) in experimental psychology, neuroscience, cognitive science or a related discipline, and an MSc in a Neuroscience related discipline is desirable. Experience of conducting cognitive experiments using MEG and/or 7T fMRI is essential, as are strong programming skills (e.g. in Matlab) and experience of analyzing MEG and/or 7T fMRI data, e.g. time-resolved decoding or estimating layer-specific responses. Excellent oral and written communication skills, with fluency in English, good inter-personal skills, exceptional attention to detail, and a very high level of consideration and care for research volunteers with ability to build rapport with study participants, are also required. An interest in/experience of studying visual perception is essential.

Deadline 31st August 2022. Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed in September.

How to apply:

Applicants should submit 1) a CV, 2) a 1-page statement detailing why you want to do the PhD, motivation, interest and suitability for the project, 3) a copy of your strongest single piece of academic work (e.g. thesis, publication), 4) contact details of two referees, and 5) tuition fee confirmation (for international and EU students only). Please ensure that each document is clearly labelled with your surname. Please send all documents to Kamlyn Ramkissoon ([Email Address Removed]) by 31st August 2022. Interviews will be held in September 2022. Informal enquiries are welcome to Dr Peter Kok ([Email Address Removed]).

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