[Neuroinfo] Seeking PhD student to study human brain networks underlying anaesthesia and consciousness

Levin Kuhlmann levink at unimelb.edu.au
Mon Mar 24 03:08:05 CET 2014

The Brain Dynamics Unit in the Brain and Psychological Sciences Research Centre at the Swinburne University of Technology is seeking a motivated and capable PhD student to work on the functional neuroimaging of anaesthetic action.  The planned project, to be performed in collaboration with anaesthetists, will involve the administration of the dissociative anaesthetic agents xenon (a noble gas) and nitrous oxide ('laughing gas') to healthy participants while simultaneous MEG and EEG is recorded. The induced changes in the functional architecture of the recorded electromagnetic activity will then be characterised using a range of existing and to be developed information theoretic, graph theoretic and non-linear methods.  Attempts to account for any induced changes in terms of mean field/mass action models of brain electrical activity will be investigated.  The dissociative anaesthetic agents are of particular interest because they are reported to increase activity in the brain in addition to targeting glutamatergic neurotransmitter systems implicated in the pathogenesis of a number of psychiatric and neurological disorders.

The position is suitable for those entering the field of neuroscience from other appropriate backgrounds - e.g., from theoretical physics - since comprehensive skills in applied mathematics and scientific programming are required. In this case the necessary neuroscience training will be provided "on the job" during the first year. Interested applicants should have a strong background in any of the following disciplines: theoretical physics, mathematics, biomedical or electrical engineering or quantitative biology.

A first class honours degree or equivalent is required with proficiency in more than one of the following: C, Fortran, Python or Matlab

Researchers in the unit, led by Prof David Liley, have developed a physiologically motivated theory of the dynamical genesis of the electroencephalogram (EEG). The model accounts for the rhythms of the human EEG and predicts their alteration by a range of pharmaceutical agents, in particular that of anaesthetic and sedative agents. Numerical solutions of the model's coupled set of non-linear partial differential equations have revealed spatio-temporal structures similar to those observed in experiment.  It is hoped that this model can contribute to our understanding of how anaesthetic agents modulate brain activity.

The Brain Dynamics group is part of the Brain and Psychological Sciences Research Centre (BPsyC), a vibrant, multi-disciplinary team of researchers whose expertise spans several different fields that include physics, psychology, psychophysiology, biophysics and the neurosciences. The BPsyC has among the most comprehensive suite of functional neuroimaging facilities available in Australia. These facilities include a 306 channel Elekta TRIUX MEG system, a Siemens 3T TIM Trio MRI and multiple high density EEG systems.

A range of scholarships for national and international students are available, at up AUD 24,653 per year for three and a half years, tax-free.

The deadline for applications is the 30th May 2014. More details on the application process can be found at http://www.research.swinburne.edu.au/research-students/scholarships/.

International students are required to sit an IELTS test (or equivalent, e.g. TOEFL) with an average band score of at least 6.5, with no band less than 6.0. Swinburne also strongly encourages minorities and women to apply.

Interested applicants should email Prof. David T. J. Liley at dliley(at) swin.edu.au.


Prof David Liley

Brain and Psychological Sciences Research Centre Swinburne University of Technology P.O. Box 218 Hawthorn VIC 3122 Australia

ph: +61 3 9214 8812
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