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Tired and out of control? Effects of sleep deprivation on response inhibition under low and high threat


Project Description

Research Project Introduction

We are seeking a capable and highly motivated student to begin a PhD as part of a new 3-year project funded by the Royal Society Te Apārangi Marsden Fund (19-UOA-220), entitled: “Tired and out of control? Effects of sleep deprivation on response inhibition under low and high threat”.

Increasing sleep deficits among the adult population impose a serious health and safety risk on modern society. One crucial cognitive function that is affected by sleep, is the ability to willfully stop or suppress ongoing thought and action (i.e., response inhibition). Response inhibition plays a major role in daily life and is crucial for adaptive responding to high stress (e.g., navigating risk-full traffic situations, managing social conflict). Using state of the art non-invasive electrophysiological stimulation and recording techniques (TMS-EEG), we will examine the neurocognitive effects of sleep deprivation on response inhibition in low- and high-threat situations.

Research Project Objectives
By systematically quantifying behavioural effects and identifying distinct neurophysiological mechanisms underlying inhibitory failure, the project will establish much-needed empirical and theoretical foundations for future interventions (e.g., therapeutic strategies) that help people maintain control over their actions in those situations where it counts the most.

Criteria for successful applicant

The successful candidate will:
• be eligible to enroll/begin a PhD no later than March 1st 2020;
• have a BSc (Hons) or MSc degree in psychology, sport & exercise sciences; human movement sciences, medical sciences; or a closely related area

Key attributes:
• Enthusiasm; Motivation; Time management & organisational skills; Hard working & diligent; Commitment; Independence & confidence; Good written and verbal communication

Preference will be given to candidates with:
• specialisation in neuroscience or neurophysiology
• experience with data collection and analysis of human neurophysiological data using techniques such as TMS/EEG/EMG
• experience with electrophysiological data acquisition and analysis (LabVIEW/Signal/ Python/Matlab)

Other information
The project is led by Dr. Arne Nieuwenhuys and Professor Winston Byblow in the Department of Exercise Sciences – Movement Neuroscience Laboratory.

The project has full RA support (overnight supervision for sleep deprivation) and technical assistance (TMS-EEG) available during data collection.

Funding Notes

The University of Auckland offers a number of doctoral scholarships throughout the year. If you possess an excellent academic record (e.g. first class honours or master’s degree) then you may be eligible for a scholarship. Please get in touch by email to discuss any potential applications at an early stage.

If your country has a scholarship program or if you are a self-funded candidate, please get in contact by email to see if we are able to support or endorse your application.

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