[Comp-neuro] 3-year fully-funded PhD in motor learning and control

Joseph Galea (School of Psychology) (ID=*****11) J.Galea at bham.ac.uk
Tue Jan 17 11:33:45 CET 2017

Dear all,

The Galea lab (josephgalea.weebly.com<http://josephgalea.weebly.com/>) in the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham (UK) has a fully-funded (for UK/EU nationals) 3-year PhD position beginning October, 2017 funded by the ERC starting grant: MotMotLearn.

Motor learning (the ability of the brain to learn and update how an action is executed) is a fundamental process which influences many aspects of our lives such as learning to walk during childhood; the day-to-day behavioural adjustments required as an adult or in healthy ageing; and the rehabilitation process following an illness or injury. Despite the impact to society, it has proved extremely difficult to develop interventions that significantly enhance human motor learning. Therefore, devising protocols which optimise motor learning is a state-of-the-art research question that promises to deliver scientific, clinical and societal impact.

Seeking reward and avoiding punishment are powerful factors in motivating humans to alter behaviour during cognition-based learning (selecting which action to perform), with sensitivity to reward and punishment being biased by the availability of dopamine in the brain. Intriguingly, reward and punishment are also known to affect generic motor learning (deciding how an action is executed) tasks which involve multiple underlying mechanisms. However to establish their potential for optimizing motor learning, we must understand how explicit reward- and punishment-based motivational feedback impact motor learning systems with unique computational and anatomical features.

Using a combination of behavioural analysis, computational modelling, genetics and brain imaging, this PhD project will contribute to the first systems-based account of how reward, punishment and dopamine influence motor learning. Specifically, the successful candidate will investigate how motor memories are consolidated across multiple days and the influence reward has on this process. It will further examine whether memory retention can be enhanced through reward-based implicit cues and if this process can be captured with EEG.

Dr Galea is seeking an intelligent and enthusiastic student with experience either in motor control/learning, computational neuroscience and/or EEG. The ideal candidate will have experience with programming in matlab, collecting data (from participants) on behavioural tasks and some understanding of statistics. A masters and/or research assistant experience would be ideal but not compulsory.

Psychology at the University of Birmingham www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/psychology/research/index.aspx<http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/psychology/research/index.aspx>

If interested please email your CV to: j.galea at bham.ac.uk<mailto:j.galea at bham.ac.uk>

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