Fully-funded PhD Studentship Using tDCS to optimise performance and reduce cognitive interference in language tasks



Applications are invited from ambitious, self-motivated candidates to study the benefits and limitations of tDCS, a relatively novel technique which allows us to modulate cortical responsiveness through the administration of a weak electrical current to the scalp.  The direction of the current flow (anodal or cathodal) results in either an increase or a decrease in excitation through polarisation or depolarisation of neural membranes.  tDCS is receiving a lot of attention because it has proven to enhance performance in motor and cognitive tasks when administered for short periods of time, without any significant side effects.  It is crucial, however, to learn more about the particular conditions in which tDCS produces facilitation and those, if any, where effects are negative.  This PhD project aims to assess the benefits and limitation of tDCS across a number of language tasks involving producing and remembering known words (as in picture naming and short-term memory tasks) as well as learning novel words.­  Results will enhance our understanding of language functions as well as having possible clinical and educational implications. 

This is a joint project between Aston University and the University of Birmingham and will benefit from a cross-disciplinary team of scientists with expertise in the assessment of language functions, brain imaging, tDCS and statistical analyses.  Principal supervisors will be Dr Cristina Romani, Aston University, and Prof Chris Miall, University of Birmingham; associate supervisors will be Prof Paul Furlong, Aston University, and Dr Andrew Olson, University of Birmingham.

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Aston University is a long established research-led University currently ranked 5th in the UK for graduate employability (2012 Sunday Times University Guide). The School of Life and Health Sciences (LHS) was ranked 3rd out of 63 UK institutions for research in Allied Health and Professional Studies in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).

Birmingham University is ranked in the top 100 of over 8000 global universities with £153 million of research funding.  The School of Psychology was ranked 3rd after Oxbridge in the 2008 RAE, and has over £8 million in current research funding.   

Financial support:

This Studentship is funded by the Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (dstl) [20 studentships funded nationally] and provides a tax-free stipend for three years of approximately £13,997 per annum and payment of UK/EU tuition fees.

Application Requirements:

  • Eligible applicants should hold at least a Bachelor (Hons.) Degree of either First Class or Upper Second Class in Psychology or Neuroscience or a Master’s Degree (MSc/MRes) in a relevant discipline
  • EU applicants will need to demonstrate adequate proficiency in English Language skills, with a minimum score of 620 (260 minimum in computer test) in TOEFL  or a minimum of 6.5 in each section and an overall band of 7.0 in IELTS
  • The Studentship is funded for 3 years, subject to a satisfactory progress review at the end of the first year, and with submission by 4 years. The anticipated registration date is 1st of October 2013.  
  • Enquiries should be addressed to:

Dr Cristina Romani at [email protected] ; Tel +44 (0) 121 204 4081

  • To apply, please complete the on-line application form by clicking the Apply link below.
  • Closing date for applications is: Friday 23rd August 2013       

Reference Number: R130212

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