PhD Studentship in Eye-tracking and Visual Cognition

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship to commence in October 2013. The studentship will cover tuition fees and provide a maintenance grant at a rate comparable with other UK Research Council studentships. The successful applicant will be based in the Centre for Vision and Cognition (CVC) in the Academic Unit of Psychology, and will be supervised by a team consisting of Professor Nick Donnelly, Professor Simon Liversedge, Dr Julie Hadwin, Dr Matthew Garner, and Dr Hayward Godwin. The CVC forms a vibrant and highly active research community that will serve to support and help develop the student’s knowledge and research skills.

The student will work on a project that has been funded by the Defence Sciences Technology Laboratory (Dstl) for a period of three years. The project involves examining human behaviour when engaged with dynamic visualisation displays that are highly complex in nature. In the first year, experimentation will focus on exploring the basic characteristics of performance in the task. In the second year, experimentation will explore how individual differences in anxiety and attentional control influence performance in the task. In the final year, training regimes will be developed with the goal of improving performance: one of these regimes will involve attentional control training, and the other will involve the use of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS), a non-invasive brain stimulation technique that has been shown to aid performance in a number of tasks. The experiments will be conducted within CVC’s state-of-the-art eye tracking laboratories. Eye tracking will be utilised in all experiments to gain a fine-grained understanding of behaviour and performance in the tasks.

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During the course of the studentship, the student will gain valuable experience in a number of key research skills. These include working to program experiments, conduct data analysis, data collection, using eye-tracking systems, application of tDCS. There will be numerous opportunities for the student to develop their skills along these lines, including in-house training that we have made available to postgraduate students and members of staff. The student will also play a pivotal role in the writing up of their experimental results for publication in high-impact peer-reviewed journals, and will have the opportunity to present their results at international conferences. Also, given the applied nature of the work, the student will also have the opportunity to gain valuable experience by presenting their results to government organisations and industry.

Applicants must have an undergraduate degree with a good 2i and research experience or be close to obtaining a M.Sc. in Psychology. A high level of motivation and excellent interpersonal and organisational skills are essential. Previous experience with eye-tracking, tDCS or programming is highly desirable, but not essential. The deadline for applications is 5 pm on Friday 9th August 2013. Given the applied nature of the research, the studentship is open to UK nationals only, and that the applicant must be willing to undergo security and criminal record checks as a part of the studentship. Furthermore, the studentship funding will be subject to approval by the Ministry of Defence’s Research Ethics Committee (MoDREC). If ethical approval is not obtained, the funding will not continue, though the student will be paid for their time spent working on the project.

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If you have specific questions or would like to request more information about the above project, please contact Dr. Matthew Garner on

Prospective candidates are required to apply for this studentship by applying for the MPhil/PhD in Psychology (full-time) using the University of Southampton on-line application system. A copy of the on-line application form and guidance notes can be found at the following website:

Please indicate in the funding section of the application form that you wish to be considered specifically for this studentship, and e-mail Claire Caffrey ( to indicate you have applied.

For any enquiries about the application process, please contact Dr. Garner or the Graduate School Administrative Officer, Claire Caffrey (E-mail: ; Tel 02380 593476).

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