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The Cognitive Electrophysiology of Disorders of Consciousness

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  • Full or part time
    Dr D Cruse
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

What mental abilities are retained by non-communicative patients with disorders of consciousness, such as those in the vegetative state or coma? Can we identify these mental abilities at the bedside with portable brain-imaging? What does this information tell us about the patient’s likelihood of recovery? What does it tell us about how the brain supports consciousness itself?

Applications are welcome from students who are keen to investigate the brain mechanisms that support consciousness and cognition, and to apply their methods to complex clinical questions. The lab uses electroencephalography (EEG) and behavioural experiments in both healthy volunteers and patients with severe brain injury. Our work is directly translated into the development of diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers to be used in clinical settings, as well as the development of novel treatment approaches.

Please check the lab’s website for more details:

Applicants should have a research-oriented background in cognitive neuroscience, experimental psychology, or computer science and should be undaunted by the challenge of learning computer programming and time series data analysis. Previous experience with neuroimaging and/or patient research is desirable.

Applications are invited for a PhD to begin in September 2016.

The successful applicant will be based in the University of Birmingham School of Psychology, and would be supervised by Dr Damian Cruse. The School of Psychology ranked 5th in the UK for its world-leading (4*) research, making it one of the best Psychology schools in the country. We are one of the largest and most active psychology departments in the UK and have an excellent reputation for teaching and research with around 800 students studying in a wide range of undergraduate, postgraduate and research programmes. Further information can be found at:

Before formally applying, please first make an informal enquiry to Dr. Damian Cruse ([email protected]) including a copy of your CV and a brief statement of your interests and experience.

Subsequent formal applications must be made via the postgraduate admissions system in the School of Psychology. In order for the application to be processed quickly, candidates should submit a personal statement, CV, 2 references, and transcript of grades.

A copy of the on-line application form and guidance notes can be found at the following website:

Funding Notes

Competitive funding is occasionally available for excellent students to cover home/EU tuition fees and a tax-free maintenance grant for 3 years (£13,863/ year in 2014/15). International Students from outside the EU may apply, but may be liable for the difference between UK/EU and International (Overseas) tuition fees. Please indicate in the funding section of the application form if you wish to be considered for a competitive studentship offered by the University of Birmingham and e-mail [email protected] to indicate you have applied.

Applications for self-funded PhD projects are also welcome. If you are interested, please directly contact Dr. Damian Cruse [email protected]


Cruse, D., Chennu, S., Chatelle, C., Bekinschtein, T. A., Fernández-Espejo, D., Pickard, J. D., Laureys, S., & Owen, A. M. (2011).
Bedside Detection of Awareness in the Vegetative State - a Cohort Study.
The Lancet, 378(9809), 2088-2094.

Cruse, D., Chennu, S., Fernández-Espejo, D., Payne, W., Young, G. B., & Owen, A. M. (2012).
Detecting awareness in the Vegetative State: Electroencephalographic evidence for attempted movements to command.
PLoS ONE, 7(11).

Gibson, R. M., Chennu, S., Owen, A. M., & Cruse, D. (2014).
Complexity and familiarity enhance single-trial detectability of imagined movements with electroencephalography.
Clinical Neurophysiology, 125(8), 1556-1567

Cruse, D., Beukema, S. T., Chennu, S., Malins, J. G., Owen, A. M., & McRae, K. (2014).
The reliability of the N400 in single subjects: Implications for patients with disorders of consciousness.
Neuroimage: Clinical, 4, 788-799.

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

FTE Category A staff submitted: 40.80

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

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