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Neural networks regulating subconscious visual responses

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

We consider the eye to be the origin of visual perception, but are generally unaware that almost all of our body systems are regulated in some way by what we ‘see’ around us. Indeed, there are specialised pathways from the retina that regulate hormone secretion, our body clock and many other processes, together, acting to optimise our physiology according to the changing demands of the day. Such subconscious visual responses are known to arise through a set of highly interconnected brain nuclei but, at present, there is very little understanding of how this network processes and communicates visual signals to the rest of the brain and body to control our physiology. Addressing this deficit is a particularly important goal, however, since chronic disruption to this systems normal functioning (such as in shift workers and frequent long-haul travellers) is associated with numerous adverse effects on health including increased incidence of cancer and metabolic disorders.

I am happy to consider Ph.D. candidates who wish to use sophisticated electrophysiological approaches (in vivo and/or in vitro) and computational methods to investigate this important brain system.

Funding Notes

This project has a Band 3 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website. For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website. Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor.


Brown TM, Wynne J, Piggins HD, Lucas RJ. (2011). Multiple hypothalamic cell populations encoding distinct visual information. J Physiol. 589: 1173-1194

Brown, TM, Gias, C, Hatori, M, Keding, SR, Semo, M, Coffey, PJ, Gigg, J, Piggins, HD, Panda, S, Lucas, RJ (2010). Melanopsin contributions to irradiance coding in the thalamo-cortical visual system. PLoS Biol. 8: e1000558

Brown TM, Piggins HD. (2009). Spatiotemporal Heterogeneity in the Electrical Activity of Suprachiasmatic Nuclei Neurons and their Response to Photoperiod. J Biol Rhythms 24: 44-54

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