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Visual and brain development in children with early risk factors

About This PhD Project

Project Description

A PhD position in the area of children’s visual development is available within the University of Auckland, New Zealand in collaboration with the University of Waterloo, Canada. The PhD project will involve psychophysical measures of form and motion perception in cohorts of children of who were born preterm or at risk of neonatal hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels after birth).

Brain development can be affected by perinatal events such as preterm birth and low blood glucose levels soon after birth. The aim of this PhD project is to assess the effect of adverse perinatal events on the development of visual brain areas in early and late childhood. The project will involve the measurement of motion and form perception in children and may also extend to MRI measures of visual cortex structure and function.

The student will be based within the Liggins Institute at the University of Auckland and supervision will be provided by Distinguished Professor Jane Harding (University of Auckland) and Professor Ben Thompson (University of Waterloo).

Who we are:

The Liggins Institute is a world-leading centre for research on fetal and child health, nutrition, development, genome biology and translational and implementation science. Our mission is to improve life-long health through excellent research into the long-term consequences of early life events.

We work across a range of fields to view human health problems from different angles. This unique approach enables us to turn research discoveries into real strategies that will help people to prevent or manage major health problems in the 21st century.

As a research-only institute, we attract some of the best research students and clinical fellows in the world. You’ll be supported by internationally-recognised staff and you’ll benefit from state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and a dedicated clinical research unit.

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, vision science, optometry, ophthalmology).

To apply, please send a CV and academic transcript to Ben Thompson: and Jane Harding:

To learn more about the Liggins Institute visit


References Find out more here:

Thompson B, McKinlay CDJ, Chakraborty A, Anstice NA, Jacobs RJ, Paudel N, Ansell JM, Wouldes TA, Harding JA. (2017). Global motion perception is associated with motor function in 2-year-old children. Neuroscience Letters. 658: 117-181.

Chakraborty, A., Anstice, N.S., Jacobs, R.J., Paudel, N., Lagasse, L.L., Lester, B.M., McKinlay, C.J., Harding, J.E., Wouldes, T.A., Thompson, B. (2017). Global motion perception is related to motor function in 4.5-year-old children born at risk of abnormal development. Vision Research, 135: 16-25.

Paudel, N., Chakraborty, A., Anstice, N., Jacobs, R.J., Hegarty, J., Harding, J.E., Thompson, B. for the CHYLD study group. (2017). Neonatal hypoglycaemia and visual development: a review. Neonatology, 112 (1), 47-52.

Chakraborty, A., Anstice, N.A., Jacobs, R.J., Lagasse, L.L., Lester, B.M., Wouldes, Thompson, B. (2015). Prenatal exposure to recreational drugs affects global motion perception in preschool children. Scientific Reports, 5, Article number 1692.

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