Doctoral research scholarship: Predictive neural computations supporting speech processing in naturalistic conditions

Closing Date
20 Jan 2020
Salary
£15,009 p.a
Address
Brighton, Sussex
Duration
3 years

Doctoral Research Scholarship - 3.25 years stipend + UK/EU fees + research and training costs + Doctoral Tutor contract for teaching up to 165 hours per year for 3 years (paid in addition to the stipend)

PhD studentship in auditory cognitive neuroscience supervised by Dr Ediz Sohoglu

In contemporary neuroscience, the brain is increasingly seen as a ‘prediction machine’, exploiting prior knowledge to predict or anticipate upcoming sensory signals. Nowhere is this more evident than during the perception of speech: hearing the sequence of phonemes “snoo...” sets up a strong prediction for “…ker” because “snooker” is the most frequent word that follows. As a result, “snooker” is recognised more quickly than other similar sounding words such as “snooper”.

However, there are multiple ways by which predictive computations could be implemented in the brain and evidence favouring one implementation over another is lacking, particularly in naturalistic conditions (e.g. when listening to continuous speech rather than isolated words).

This project aims to establish how predictive computations are instantiated in human cortex during comprehension of naturalistic speech (from audiobooks). To achieve this, the student will use cutting-edge EEG analysis methods to relate information in the continuous speech signal to recorded brain responses. The student will be trained in the use of such methods but previous experience of programming and signal processing is desirable.

Doctoral Tutor role: 
The successful candidate will also be offered a 3 year fixed term contract, as a Doctoral Tutor, to teach up to 165 hours per year (0.1FTE Grade 5.1 (currently £25,482 p.a. pro rata), covering contact time, preparation, and marking). Doctoral Tutors will begin teaching in the second term of their studies. They will be encouraged to study for a formal teaching accreditation (Associate of the Higher Education Academy), including enrolling on a ‘starting to teach’ module in the first term before they begin teaching. Candidates who demonstrate suitability for, and express interest in, the additional Doctoral Tutor role will be preferred. 

Amount

The successful applicant will be awarded a stipend for 3.25 years (tied to the UKRI studentship rates, currently £15,009 p.a.). UK/EU PhD fees and research/training costs are also covered. 

The successful applicant will also be offered a 3 year fixed term contract, as a Doctoral Tutor, to teach up to 165 hours per year (0.1FTE Grade 5.1 (currently £25,941 p.a. pro rata), covering contact time, preparation, and marking). 

International students may apply but must fund the difference between the Home/EU fees and International Fees (approximately £16,000 per year).

Eligibility

  • This award will only pay fees at the Home/EU rate.
  • Candidates must have, or expect to obtain, a First or a high Upper Second Class Honours undergraduate degree, or equivalent qualification, and/or a Master’s degree in Psychology, Neuroscience or a related discipline (e.g. Neuroscience, Engineering, Computer Science).
  • Previous experience of computer programming, functional brain imaging (EEG, fMRI) or signal processing is desirable.
  • The University of Sussex believes that the diversity of its staff and student community is fundamental to creative thinking, pedagogic innovation, intellectual challenge, and the interdisciplinary approach to research and learning. We celebrate and promote diversity, equality and inclusion amongst our staff and students. As such, we welcome applications from all, regardless of personal characteristics or background.

Number of scholarships available

1

Deadline

20 January 2020 23:45 (GMT)

How to apply

  • In the 'Supervisor suggested by applicant' section of your application, please put Dr Ediz Sohoglu.
  • In the 'Proposed source of funding' section of your application, please put 'Psychology Doctoral Research Scholarship'

Candidates should provide: 

  • A research proposal that outlines your knowledge of the research area, hypotheses that could be addressed in your PhD, and an outline of potential methods. The research proposal should be approximately 1,000 to 1,500 words in length and not exceed 3 pages, including references. It should be set at a minimum of 10 font type with margins a minimum of 1cm.
  • Current degree transcript(s) with full details of performance on all completed courses. 
  • Two academic references.
  • An up-to-date CV.
  • A document summarising any teaching experience you have and illustrating your suitability for a Doctoral Tutor role. 
  • International students who are liable to pay overseas fees should also explain their plan to cover the difference between home and overseas fees.

Further Information

Timetable
Deadline: Monday 20 January 2020 (23:59)

Interviews (usually via Skype): week of 3 February 2020

Decisions: end of March 2020

Contact Details

For queries with respect to the application process: psychologyphd-enquiries@sussex.ac.uk

For informal discussion and to request further details about the project, please email Dr Ediz Sohoglu