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Targeting the neural and behavioural dynamics of cognitive control


Project Description

A PhD position in the area of cognitive neuroscience is available within the University of Auckland, New Zealand. The PhD project will involve the use of electroencephalography (EEG) and hand-tracking techniques to study how the neural and behavioural dynamics of cognitive control are linked and how the nature of these dynamics differ across tasks and age groups.

Human beings possess a remarkable capacity for controlled thought and action. This capacity, known as cognitive control, has been linked to a wide range of important outcomes, including early math and reading ability, overall levels of mental and physical health, and caregiving behaviour. Consequently, a major focus of research in the behavioural and brain sciences has been to identify the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie this crucial capacity. However, these efforts have been constrained by an overreliance on button-press measures of behaviour that offer limited insight into how the processes underlying cognitive control unfold over time. This PhD project will help to address this limitation by combining high-density EEG with motion tracking equipment to record participants’ hand movements. This groundbreaking approach to recording behavioural and neural dynamics simultaneously will provide a detailed view of how the processes underlying cognitive control develop across the lifespan, differ between individuals, and function across different tasks.

The student will based in the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland and supervision will be provided by Dr. Christopher D. Erb and another researcher within the School of Psychology with expertise in cognitive neuroscience. The PhD project will be carried out in collaboration with researchers from the United States and Canada.

Applicants should meet the criteria for acceptance to the doctoral program at the University of Auckland and hold a bachelor, masters, or professional degree in a relevant discipline (such as psychology or neuroscience). Previous experience with EEG would be beneficial but is not required.

To apply, please send a CV and academic transcript to Dr. Christopher Erb:

Funding Notes

The projects are intended for self-funded PhD students and students who are eligible for the general scholarships offered by the University of Auckland; see
(View Website)

International students are also encouraged to explore funding opportunities in their home countries for studying abroad.

References

Erb, C. D. & Cavanagh, J. F. (2019). Layers of latent effects in cognitive control: An EEG investigation. Acta Psychologica.
(https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2019.02.004)

Erb, C. D., McBride, A., & Marcovitch, S. (2019). Associative priming and conflict differentially affect two processes underlying cognitive control: Evidence from reaching behavior. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.
(https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-019-01576-y)

Erb, C. D. & Marcovitch, S. (2018a). Deconstructing the Gratton effect: Targeting dissociable trial sequence effects in children, pre-adolescents, and adults. Cognition, 179, 150-162.
(https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.06.007)

Erb, C. D. & Marcovitch, S. (2018b). Tracking the within-trial, cross-trial, and developmental dynamics of cognitive control: Evidence from the Simon task. Child Development.
(https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13111)

Erb, C. D., Moher, J., Sobel, D. M., & Song, J-H. (2016). Reach tracking reveals dissociable processes of cognitive control. Cognition, 152, 114-126.
(https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2016.03.015)

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