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(WIS) Neural Computation by the Dynamics of Neural Populations

Project Description

Each human brain has 10 times more neurons than there are human beings on our planet. The collective activity of large groups of numbers is known to be critical for how we perceive, act, think and feel. Yet the population mechanisms that underlie these functions remain poorly understood. However, there is prospect for progress from the recent development of powerful methods for recording the activity of many neurons at the same time (Calcium imaging, silicon array electrophysiology), for analysing such data (dimension reduction) and for control of complex behaviour (rat-machine interface). The aim of this project is to use these techniques to investigate how the collective activity of neurons in the whisker system encodes dynamic sensory signals.

The general aim of this PhD is to address this question, by building on powerful new methods established in the Petersen and Ahissar labs. We seek a highly-motivated student willing to take on challenging experiments at the cutting-edge of neuroscience. The successful student will have the opportunity for training in electrophysiological recording, Calcium imaging, use of rat-machine interface, as well as computational modelling.

Entry Requirements
Applicants must be from the UK/EU and have obtained (or be about to obtain) a minimum 2:1 Bachelors honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject area.

Funding Notes

This project is available to UK/EU candidates. Funding covers fees (UK/EU rate) and stipend for four years. Overseas candidates can apply providing they can pay the difference in fees and are from an eligible country. Candidates will be required to split their time between Manchester and Weizmann Institute of Science, as outlined on View Website.

As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit.


Campagner D., Evans M., Bale M.R., Erskine A., Petersen R.S. (2016) Prediction of primary somatosensory neuron activity during active tactile exploration Elife 5:e10696 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.10696.

Bale M.R., Campagner D., Erskine A., Petersen R.S. (2015) Microsecond-scale Timing Precision in Rodent Trigeminal Primary Afferents J Neuroscience 35:5935-40.

Wallach, A., K. Bagdasarian, and E. Ahissar (2016) On-going computation of whisking phase by mechanoreceptors. Nature neuroscience 19:487–493.

Tonomura, S., Ebara, S., Bagdasarian, K., Uta, D., Ahissar, E., Meir, I., Lampl, I., Kuroda, D., Furuta, T., Furue, H., and Kumamoto, K. (2015). Structure-function correlations of rat trigeminal primary neurons: Emphasis on club-like endings, a vibrissal mechanoreceptor.
The Proceedings of the Japan Academy Ser B (Jpn Acad Ser B Phys Biol Sci), 91:560-576

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