Somatosensory and Thermoregulatory aspects of Neurological Diseases

Loughborough University

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship funded by the Graduate School to start in January 2017. The project will be based in the Design School at Loughborough University and will be performed under the supervision of Dr Davide Filingeri.

Project Details
The ability to experience skin sensations such as temperature, touch or wetness allows humans to interact effectively with their physical environment. It would be almost impossible to avoid getting dangerously hot on a warm-humid day or to hold and manipulate wet and slippery objects, if we had not evolved sensory systems that translate physical skin stimuli into conscious sensations. The role of skin sensations in normal body function and independent living is even more evident when their underlying neural mechanisms are disrupted.

Numerous neurological diseases, amongst which Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s Disease (PD), are accompanied by impairments in skin sensations. MS patients often present reductions in skin temperature sensitivity and this can impair their ability to behaviourally thermoregulate upon exposure to thermal challenges (heat and cold). Decreases in temperature and touch sensitivity are also common in PD patients and these sensory symptoms seem to play a role in the development of well-established motor symptoms (e.g. impairments in precision grip). As most somatosensory symptoms begins during the early development of MS and PD, understanding their physiological and pathological mechanisms is critical for early detection and for the design of assistive devices.

Using a combination of physiological and psychophysical measurements, this project will explore physiological and pathological aspects of somatosensory dysfunction in neurological diseases (e.g. MS or PD) and their impact on individuals’ ability to interact with their physical environment.

The studentship is for 3 years and is intended to start in January 2017. The studentship provides a stipend of £14,296.00 plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate for up to three years. International (non EU) students may apply however the total value of the studentship will be used towards the cost of the International tuition fee.

Students will normally need to hold, or expect to gain, at least a 2:1 degree (or equivalent) in Human Biology, Neuroscience, Psychology, Ergonomics or Exercise Science.  A relevant Master’s degree and/or experience in one or more of the following will be an advantage: Human Physiology, Sensory Neuroscience, Human Factors and Ergonomics, research experience with clinical or non-clinical participants.

General information about the Design School can be found at:

For informal enquiries about the project, please contact Dr Davide Filingeri - email:

To apply, please complete the online application using the following link quoting the reference: LDS/DF/10/2016:

Interviews will take place week commencing November 21st, 2016

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Midlands of England