PhD Studentship - Next generation neural field models on spherical domains

University of Nottingham - Mathematical Sciences

Location: University Park

Supervised by Dr Rachel Nicks and Professor Stephen Coombes

This project will be based at the University of Nottingham in the School of Mathematical Sciences.

The number of neurons in the brain is immense (of the order of 100 billion). A popular approach to modelling such cortical systems is to use neural field models which are mathematically tractable and which capture the large scale dynamics of neural tissue without the need for detailed modelling of individual neurons. Neural field models have been used to interpret EEG and brain imaging data as well as to investigate phenomena such as hallucinogenic patterns, short-term (working) memory and binocular rivalry.

A typical formulation of a neural field equation is an integro-differential equation for the evolution of the activity of populations of neurons within a given domain. Neural field models are nonlinear spatially extended pattern forming systems. That is, they can display dynamic behaviour including spatially and temporally periodic patterns beyond a Turing instability in addition to localised patterns of activity. The majority of research on neural field models has been restricted to the line or planar domains, however the cortical white matter system is topologically close to a sphere. It is relevant to study neural field models as pattern forming systems on spherical domains, particularly as the periodic boundary conditions allow for natural generation (via interference) of the standing waves observed in EEG signals.

This project will build on recent developments in neural field theory, focusing in particular on extending to spherical geometry the neural field equations arising from “Next generation neural mass models” (which incorporate a description of the evolution of synchrony within the system). Techniques from dynamical systems theory, including linear stability analysis, weakly nonlinear analysis, symmetric bifurcation theory and numerical simulation will be used to consider the global and local patterns of activity that can arise in these models.

Summary: UK/EU students - Tuition Fees paid, and full Stipend at the RCUK rate, which is £14,296 per annum for 2016/17. There will also be some support available for you to claim for limited conference attendance. The scholarship length will be 3 or 3.5, depending on the qualifications and training needs of the successful applicant.

This scholarship can be extended to cover full international fees. Interested full international students must apply by 15th January 2017, at the latest.

Eligibility/Entry Requirements: We require an enthusiastic graduate with a 1st class degree in Mathematics, preferably at MMath/MSc level, or an equivalent overseas degree (in exceptional circumstances a 2:1 class degree, or equivalent, can be considered).

Apply: This studentship is available to start from September 2017 and will remain open until it is filled. To apply please visit the University Of Nottingham application page:

For any enquiries please email:

This studentship is open until filled. Early application is strongly encouraged. 

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Midlands of England