PhD Studentship in Visual Search of Repeated Scenes

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship to commence in October 2013. The studentship will cover tuition fees and a maintenance grant at a rate comparable with other UK Research Council studentships. The studentship is based in the Centre for Vision and Cognition (CVC) in the Academic Unit of Psychology, and will be supervised by Professor Nick Donnelly, Dr Matt Garner, Professor Simon Liversedge, Dr Julie Hadwin, and Dr Hayward Godwin.

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 visual search of scenes that are presented repeatedly to the observer. In the first year, the experiments will focus upon examining risk factors that influence detection performance in search of repeated scenes, such as working memory and mood/anxiety. In subsequent years we will examine i) how performance in visual search tasks is impaired by elevated levels of anxiety (induced using carbon dioxide inhalation) and ii) whether performance can be improved using Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS – a non-invasive brain stimulation technique that can aid performance in a number of tasks) or attentional training. The experiments will be conducted within CVC’s state-of-the-art eye tracking laboratories to gain a fine-grained understanding of behaviour and performance in the tasks.

The student will gain valuable experience in a number of key research skills. These include programming experiments, data collection/analysis, eye-tracking systems, and the application of tDCS and experimental mood induction procedures (e.g. carbon dioxide challenge). 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. Given the applied nature of the work, the student will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience by presenting their results to government organisations and industry.

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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 23rd 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.

If you have specific questions about the above project, please contact Professor Nick Donnelly: or Dr Matt Garner:

The on-line application form and guidance notes can be found at the Apply button below.

Enquiries about the application process: Graduate School, Claire Caffrey ( ; 02380 593476). 

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