Brain Computer Interfacing for Closed-loop Neuromodulation
Neural modulation techniques, such as deep brain stimulation (DBS), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial electrical stimulation (tES), have the potential to directly influence brain network activities and circuit dynamics. For example, high frequency Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an effective therapy for movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) has been approved for major depressive disorder (MDD). However, in currently existing therapy, the stimulation is delivered ‘open-loop’ blinded to the current pathological states or underlying brain activities. Closed-loop neuromodulation using neural activities recorded in real-time as feedback has been shown to improve the efficacy.
The overall aim of the studentship project is to interact with neural dynamics from moment-to-moment as necessary to reverse or ameliorate dysfunctional brain activity. To this end, we must investigate the function of frequency-specific neural oscillations and network connectivity in affective processing and motor control in both health and disease through behavioural experiments with electrophysiological recordings and controlled neural stimulation in humans. The project will also involve identifying and extracting features in electrophysiological signals in real-time, as well as designing, implementing and testing different closed-loop neuromodulation strategies to interact with pathological brain activities for better treatment of symptoms.
The project will take place in the Medical Research Council Brain Network Dynamics Unit at the University of Oxford and students will benefit from the both the extensive generic and transdisciplinary skills training available within the Unit. This particular project will also offer specific training in electrophysiological signal processing, data analysis and neuromodulation.
This Ph.D. (D.Phil.) studentship is funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), a part of UKRI. The successful applicant is entitled to receive a tax-free stipend and, as a minimum, tuition fees paid at the Home level, regardless of whether they are Home or International students. Please see further details about MRC/UKRI studentships and guidance regarding Home and International eligibility. International students may be charged international level (‘Overseas’) fees by the University. Overseas fees are typically higher than Home level fees. See further details on fees at the University. Note that this MRC-funded studentship is not able to cover tuition fees above the Home level.
: Interested candidates should possess, or expect to receive, a 1st class or upper 2nd class degree (or equivalent) in a related scientific discipline, e.g. biological or physical sciences, medicine, computer science, engineering, mathematics. Previous experience in neuroscience research is highly desirable. Students with strong background in engineering science or mathematics and an interest in neuroscience are also welcomed
Associate Professor Huiling Tan will be happy to discuss the project and PhD further. Please contact her by email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
To be considered for one of these MRC-funded studentships, please submit an application for admission to the D.Phil. in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences (course code RD_CU1), following the guidance. On the application form, in the section headed ‘Departmental Studentship Applications’, please indicate that you are applying for a studentship and enter the reference code for a MRC BNDU studentship "2022BNDUDTA".
The closing date for applications is 12.00 midday UK time on Friday 3rd December 2021.
Interviews for short-listed applicants will be held on Friday 7th and Monday 10th January 2022.
Applications are invited from both Home students and International students to join a multidisciplinary team of scientists. An MRC-funded studentship is available from the start of academic year 2022/23, for 3.5 years, and will be primarily supervised by Associate Professor Huiling Tan at the MRC BNDU.