Postgraduate Research Opportunity

Towards a novel biomarker for pain: advanced analysis of oscillatory brain activity in healthy and chronic pain individuals

Details

Title: SCH02: Towards a novel biomarker for pain: advanced analysis of oscillatory brain activity in healthy and chronic pain individuals

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: Department of Psychology (in collaboration with the Department of Mathematical Sciences)

Overview

The present proposal focuses on electroencephalography (EEG) oscillations as a brain biomarker of pain, both in healthy individuals and chronic-pain patients. This project is a step forward as it proposes to study whether EEG oscillations can: (a) predict the unpleasantness of prolonged pain in healthy individuals and (b) predict ongoing pain in chronic patients.

The project’s impact stems from the combined use of psychophysiological and mathematical tools to study EEG data (i.e. advanced machine learning, brain network theory and connectivity analysis – see figure below for an example of data analysis approach) of healthy individuals and chronic-pain patients.

The collaboration with Prof. Bhaskar Dasgupta (Consultant lead of Rheumatology and Clinical Director of Research & Audit, Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Essex) will provide us with data from a large pool of patients. 

Funding

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.

Criteria

The successful candidate should possess:

  1. A Masters degree with relevant experience in the analysis of multivariate psychological and physiological data
  2. good skills in programming (particularly Matlab and Python) and advanced statistical analyses
  3. strong motivation for the project and its basic and applied health-related aspects
  4. excellent organizational and communication skills. 

Desirable criteria:

  • Proficiency in English language
  • knowledge of available EEG data analysis tools
  • experience on EEG source localization and connectivity analyses. 

How to apply

You can apply for this postgraduate research opportunity online.

Please upload:

  • Transcripts 
  • Covering letter and detailed CV
  • Personal statement
  • One reference letter

Instruction to applicants

When you apply online you will be prompted to fill out several boxes in the form:

  • For "Course title" please put "PhD Psychology"
  • For "Proposed research topic or area of research" please put the title of this studentship (SCH02: Towards a novel biomarker for pain: advanced analysis of oscillatory brain activity in healthy and chronic pain individuals)
  • For "If you have contacted a potential supervisor..." please put the name of the lead supervisor (Dr Elia Valentini)

If you have any informal queries about this opportunity please email the lead supervisor, Dr Elia Valentini (evalent@essex.ac.uk).

You can find the terms and conditions of this studentship here (PDF).