PhD Studentship - Development of cross-modal perception in domestic dogs

University of Sussex - Department of Psychology

Project title: Development of cross-modal perception in domestic dogs
Supervisor:  Dr David Reby (School of Psychology, University of Sussex)

Recent behavioural studies demonstrate that various nonhuman mammals, including domestic dogs, are able to integrate different sources of multisensory information to form functional representations of the attributes of conspecific and heterospecific signallers (such as their emotions, sex, sizeor identity). For example, dogs can associate happy-sounding voices with happy facial expressions in humans and other dogs, and spontaneously attribute an unfamiliar voice to a person of the corresponding sex. However, the development of these cross-modal associations, and in particular the role of innate, low level perceptual correspondences (e.g. frequency-size or frequency-elevation) in scaffolding the animals’ categorisation abilities, remains to be investigated.

This project will thus capitalise on our group’s expertise in the analysis and re-synthesis of vertebrate vocal signals to investigate the contribution of key features of the voice (pitch, frequency modulation, periodicity and vocal tract resonances) to the development of interspecific cross-modal associations in puppies and adult dogs.

The results of these investigations will generate important insights into how companion animals learn to perceive and categorise their social environment, and provide an essential comparative background for understanding the evolution of multisensory perception in humans.

Applications should be made by Tuesday 10th January 2017. The award of the studentship will be based on a competitive process. If awarded, it would be a full-time studentship (funded for a duration of three years) covering tuition fee, and a maintenance allowance. The maintenance allowance is currently £14,296 per annum.

Eligibility requirements for potential candidates:

  • This award will only pay fees at the Home/EU rate ( Candidates may not be eligible for the full award if they do not meet UK residency requirements. For full details of eligibility, please check the ESRC guidelines.
  • Candidates must have, or expect to obtain, a First or a high Upper Second Class Honours undergraduate degree, or equivalent qualification, and/or a Master's degree in Psychology or a related discipline.

Guidance for applicants:

  • Application procedures can be found here.
  • Please submit an online application for the ‘PhD in Psychology’ programme, for September 2017 entry through this link.
  • State in the ‘Funding information’ section of your online application that you are applying for this studentship, giving the title of the project as above and mention the supervisor, Dr David Reby, in the ‘Supervisor suggested by applicant’ section.
  • The proposed source of funding should be specified as 'ESRC or School of Psychology’.

Candidates should provide:

  • A research statement that briefly outlines your current state of knowledge, hypotheses that could be addressed, and an outline of potential methods. Your answer should not exceed 2 pages including references, be set at minimum 10 font type with margins a minimum of 1cm.
  • An up-to-date CV.
  • A current degree transcript(s) with full details of performance on all completed courses.
  • Two academic references.

For queries with respect to the application process please send an email for the attention of 'Postgraduate Coordinator' to:  
To discuss the details of this PhD project further, please contact Dr David Reby:

Share this PhD
  Share by Email   Print this job   More sharing options
We value your feedback on the quality of our adverts. If you have a comment to make about the overall quality of this advert, or its categorisation then please send us your feedback
Advert information

Type / Role:



South East England