[Comp-neuro] Ph.D available in neuroimaging analysis, University of Sussex

Anil Seth a.k.seth at sussex.ac.uk
Wed Dec 7 15:03:20 CET 2011

Ph.D. studentship available: *
Identifying causal interactions in functional MRI data using statistical 
time series analysis*

Supervised by Dr. Anil Seth, Prof. Hugo Critchley, and Dr. Lionel Barnett.

University of Sussex, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Sackler Centre 
for Consciousness Science

Deadline: 5.00pm, Tuesday 31st January 2012
Start date: October 2012

Apply here: 

Our understanding of the brain has been revolutionized by functional 
neuroimaging, the ability to look at brain activity as a person is doing 
a task, or even while they do nothing at all. Traditionally, 
neuroscientists have used neuroimaging to localize different functions 
to different parts of the brain. However, brain functions depend on 
dynamical networks spanning many different brain regions. Identifying 
these networks, and especially networks that show causal interactions 
among their elements, is a major current challenge. This Ph.D. project 
will address this challenge for functional MRI (fMRI), the most popular 
neuroimaging method. fMRI measures time-varying changes in metabolic 
signatures of neural activity. To identify causal networks, we adopt the 
framework of Granger causality analysis (GCA) which assumes that causes 
both precede and help predict their effects. GCA applied to fMRI faces 
several challenges arising because the fMRI signal is an indirect and 
incompletely understood reflection of underlying neural activity, is 
sluggish, delayed, and is sampled only once every 2-3 seconds. The 
project will address these limitations by novel combinations of theory, 
modelling and experiment. A first objective will be to adapt recent 
theoretical findings showing invariance of GCA under filtering to the 
case of fMRI. A second objective will be to characterize the behavior of 
GCA on fMRI data via detailed computational models connecting neural 
activity to simulated fMRI responses. These models will be built by 
connecting existing large-scale spiking neuron simulations with forward 
models of hemodynamic responses. Third and finally, the resulting 
methods will be benchmarked on fMRI data obtained specifically for this 

The successful candidate will benefit from being part of the Sackler 
Centre for Consciousness Science, a world-leading research group in 
computational neuroscience, functional analysis of neuroimaging data, 
and consciousness research. The student will enjoy collaborative input 
from the Department of Informatics, the Brighton and Sussex Medical 
School, and the School of Psychology; will work within a thriving 
multidisciplinary group integrating many areas of neuroscience, and will 
have full access to state-of-the-art computational and neuroimaging 
facilities. Training in fMRI analysis and statistical methods will be 

Applications should hold, or expect to obtain, a minimum upper-second 
honours degree (or equivalent) in a quantitative science discipline. 
Previous experience in neuroimaging and/or time series analysis is 
desirable but not required.

Funding Notes:**The South-East Biosciences Network (www.sebnet.org.uk 
<http://www.sebnet.org.uk>) is advertising 33 Doctoral Studentships 
across the South-East of England.

Applicants for this 4-year PhD, starting in October 2012, should possess 
or expect to be awarded an Upper Second or 1st Class Honours degree (or 
equivalent) in a relevant related subject. Studentships are available to 
UK nationals and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements. The 
studentship will support the student's stipend and tuition fees.

Informal enquiries to A.K.Seth at sussex.ac.uk <mailto:A.K.Seth at sussex.ac.uk>
See also www.sussex.ac.uk/sackler <http://www.sussex.ac.uk/sackler>

Apply here: 

Anil K. Seth, D.Phil.
Co-Director, Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science
School of Informatics, University of Sussex,
Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9QJ, UK
W: www.anilseth.com, T: +44 1273 678549,

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