Title: SCH08: Development of a novel approach to neurophysiological pain assessment in unresponsive patients
Funding: Full time Home/EU fees and a stipend of £15,009 p.a. (terms & conditions)
Application deadline: 7 May 2019
Start date: October 2019
Duration: 3 years (full time)
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (in collaboration with the Department of Psychology)
Improvements in intensive care have led to an increasing number of patients surviving traumatic brain injuries. Due to their injuries these patients may be unable to self-report pain.
Vital signs are not a reliable primary indicator of pain and methods such as functional magnetic resonance imaging cannot be applied at the bedside. Thus, the goal of this project is the development of a novel method based on the online analysis of electroencephalography (EEG) data to determine if a patient is experiencing pain.
The successful applicant will (1) investigate the influence of the tonic experience of pain on neurophysiological markers extracted from the EEG, and (2) implement the detection of the neurophysiological markers of pain in a signal processing pipeline, based on brain-computer interface (BCI) technology that can be deployed at the bedside, for the online detection of pain.
The award consists of a full Home/EU fee waiver or equivalent fee discount for overseas students (further fee details), a doctoral stipend equivalent to the Research Councils UK National Minimum Doctoral Stipend (£15,009 in 2019-20), plus £2,500 training bursary via Proficio funding, which may be used to cover the cost of advanced skills training including conference attendance and travel.
The lead supervisor is an expert in brain-computer interfacing and the online analysis of neurophysiological signals in clinical settings. The co-supervisor is an expert in pain science and the induction of experimental pain.
Together they will provide the PhD student with an ideal training environment in experimental design and data collection, online and offline analysis of neurophysiological data as well as guide the student through the process of disseminating the results of the project via scientific publication in high-ranking peer-reviewed journals.
Lead supervisorSchool of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex
Dr. Sebastian Halder has been at the University of Essex since January 2019. His research is focused on improving the efficiency and understanding of brain-computer interfaces (BCIs): devices that establish a direct connection between the brain and an external device. His current projects include using BCIs for communication, the neural mechanisms of BCI usage and the detection of mental states such as awareness or the sensation of pain.
Co-supervisorDepartment of Psychology, University of Essex
Dr Elia Valentini has been at the University of Essex since September 2015, where he is teacher and researcher at the Department of Psychology and Centre for Brain Science (CBS). His current research investigates how people perceive negative valence information, how they interpret both physical and psychological events as threatening. Current projects involve measuring electroencephalography and other psychophysiological measures, subjective reports (i.e. from sensory ratings to personality questionnaires), cognitive and behavioural performance in a multisensory setting.
The successful candidate should possess:
You can apply for this postgraduate research opportunity online.
Instruction to applicants
When you apply online you will be prompted to fill out several boxes in the form:
If you have any informal queries about this opportunity please email the lead supervisor, Dr Sebastian Halder (email@example.com).
You can find the terms and conditions of this studentship here (PDF).