UK: PhD Studentship Neuroscience Research Institute at The University of Manchester

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Description: The Neuroscience Research Institute invites applications for the following 3-year project under its 2014 PhD studentship scheme. The PhD training begins October 2014, providing full support for UK/EU tuition fees, associated research costs and an annual tax-free stipend at RCUK rates (currently £13,726). Applications are open to UK/EU nationals only due to the nature of the funding.

It is well known that regional cortical damage leads to well characterised functional deficits, manifest in a range of conditions ranging from stroke to dementia. Precise knowledge of the location of cortical regions and their boundaries is critical in the use of functional neuroimaging techniques to understand such conditions.Traditional methods for investigating cytoarchitecture and parcellation are typically invasive. Recently, we have shown that it is possible to use diffusion MRI to provide a non-invasive signature of cortical microstructure, reflecting the local layered structure of the cortical ribbon, and that this signature is broadly preserved between individuals. However, to date this method has relied on prior knowledge of approximate cortical region location and has not been sensitive enough to provide prospective parcellation of the cortex.

This project will build on this work by:

  • Extending the novel methods to provide a prospective parcellation at the individual brain level by applying computational regularisation and classification methods to maximise inter-regional variance while minimising intra-regional variance.
  • Applying these methods to the large and expanding Human Connectome project data set in order to examine similarities and differences in cytoarchitecture between monozygotic and dizygotic twins, non-twin siblings and non-related individuals. This should support understanding of which cortical region morphologies are largely dictated by genetic factors, and which are more influenced by environmental and developmental factors.

The successful candidate will develop a detailed knowledge of regional variations and similarities in cytoarchitecture across the brain, how this varies across the population and impacts our understanding of cortical parellation and its role in network architecture. They will also be trained in advanced computational methods for analysing neuroimaging data, particularly diffusion MRI.The PhD would open up career possibilities in neuroscience, imaging science or computer science. This could include academic research but also involve employment in the pharmaceutical industry, commercial imaging or software development.

Eligibility: Applicants should hold (or be expected to obtain) a minimum upper-second degree (or equivalent) in a relevant numerate area such as physics, computer science and/or mathematics. A Masters in a similar area and/or previous experience of neuro MRI or computational neuroscience would be beneficial but not essential. Experience of computer programming would be beneficial.

To Apply: Details on applying for this project can be found on the NRI website . Applicants are encouraged to discuss suitability for the study with Professor Geoff Parker ( before submitting a formal application.

Deadline: Applications will be considered up to 9.00am, Wednesday 4 December 2013.

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