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Unravelling sensory signal processing of neck position and its control of autonomic function.

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  • Full or part time
    Prof J Deuchars
    Dr J. Johnston
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

How is the external world represented by the brain? Specialized sensory neurones transform external information into the electrical signals used in communication by the nervous system, but what happens within the brain so that we can interpret them? To address this question we focus on how sensory information is transformed by neural circuits in the early sensory pathways. We investigate the computations these circuits perform and how the neural circuits implement them.

This PhD project will explore the sensory afferents conveying information on neck position. Sensory information arising from the neck is important in the reflex control of posture as well as eye position and has also been linked to the autonomic control of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, identified in our previous work. Whiplash associated disorders (WAD) and cervical dystonia, which involve disturbance to the neck region, can often present with abnormalities to the oromotor, respiratory and cardiovascular systems. However, how the information from the afferents is computed in the CNS to influence the outputs is unknown.

Objectives – This project will determine how proprioceptive afferent signals from neck muscles are processed by sensory circuits and examine how such computations affect CNS outputs.

Uniquely, the sensory signals from the neck terminate in an anatomically discrete brain region, enabling investigation separately from afferents carrying other sensations such as pain. This will allow unparalleled experimental access using contemporary optogenetic and in vivo imaging to unravel how their signals are processed in the CNS, identifying fundamental principles for such sensory signalling. This project will apply a range of cutting edge techniques to explore how these afferents and related neural circuits operate, including: electrophysiology, 2-photon imaging, optogenetics and neuronal tracing.

Applications are invited from UK and EU residents for this fully funded Ph.D. studentship in the labs of Prof. James Deuchars and Dr Jamie Johnston based in the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Leeds. We are seeking a talented and highly motivated individual with a strong interest in neuroscience. The successful applicant will have some research experience and achieved a first or upper second-class honours degree in neuroscience, physiology or a related discipline. Applications from engineering, computer science, physics and maths graduates are also encouraged.

Funding Notes

Project is eligible for funding under the FBS Faculty Studentships scheme. Successful candidates will receive a PhD studentship for 4 years, covering fees at UK/EU level and stipend at research council level (£14,777 for 2018-19).
Candidates should have, or be expecting, a 2.1 or above at undergraduate level in a relevant field. If English is not your first language, you will also be required to meet our language entry requirements. The PhD is to start in Oct 2018.
Please apply online here Include project title and supervisor name, and upload a CV and transcripts.

How good is research at University of Leeds in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 60.90

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