[Comp-neuro] PhD in Computational Neuroscience at the University of Exeter (fully funded)

James Rankin james.rankin at gmail.com
Wed Mar 15 14:53:56 CET 2017


3.5 year college funded PhD Studentship in Computational Neuroscience:
*Neural dynamics of perceptual competition *
Ref: 2589

Open to UK, EU and International students with maintenance (£14,296 per
year) and tuition fees fully funded

http://www.exeter.ac.uk/studying/funding/award/?id=2589

This interdisciplinary project will use mathematical modelling, in
conjunction with psychophysics (human perception experiments), to better
understand the neural competition underpinning the dynamics of perception.
Ambiguity in fixed sensory stimuli can lead to spontaneous switches in
perception, both in vision, e.g. binocular rivalry, Necker cube, and
audition, e.g. auditory streaming (switches between grouped or segregated
interpretations of tone sequences). A set of common characteristics
(inevitability of perceptual changes, exclusivity between the competing
percepts, and randomness in the percept durations), generalise across
sensory modalities. The neural competition driving these perceptual
switches has been successfully modelled in small networks of Wilson-Cowan
(firing rate) units, each associated with the different perceptual
interpretations. For certain stimuli, where competition takes place across
a continuous feature space (say, visual orientation, motion direction, or
auditory pitch), a continuum model, such as the neural field equation can
be applied.  This PhD project will involve the derivation of perceptual
competition models in a dynamical systems framework, based on plausible
neural mechanisms commonly found in sensory cortex. Modelling hypotheses
and predictions will be tested against experimental data collected in our
lab or from collaborators. On the modelling side, tools from bifurcation
analysis including numerical continuation will be applied to investigate
dynamics.  The project will be flexible in terms of the balance between
modelling and experiments.  Candidates with quantitative backgrounds
(mathematics, physics, and engineering) and from neuroscience or psychology
programmes are encouraged to apply.  Programming experience and/or
knowledge of dynamical systems theory is a plus.

Contact: j.a.rankin at exeter.ac.uk
Informal enquiries welcome.

Application deadline: 10th April 2017

Please forward to interested parties as appropriate

Thanks,
James
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