PhD Studentship: A Neuropsychological Study Of The Role Of Cognitive Load And Working Memory Capacity In Distraction Suppression

University of Roehampton - Department of Psychology

The Department of Psychology will fund two studentships for key research projects in 2018.  Successful candidates will engage in full time PhD study from January 2018 and integrate into the life of the Department, working with academic colleagues and students. 

Project Title:

A Neuropsychological Study Of The Role Of Cognitive Load And Working Memory Capacity In Distraction Suppression

The Bursary:

Funding is available for UK/EU and International* students at Home/EU rates for three years full-time study. The Bursary includes a tuition waiver at UK/EU fees and stipend at £16,296 (rates as at 2016/17). *(see end note)

The Project:

Selective attention allows us to ignore or suppress what is task-irrelevant and focus on what is task-relevant. According to the 'load theory' of selective attention and cognitive control, the ability to focus attention improves under conditions of high perceptual load such as an increase in the amount of visual stimulation but deteriorates under conditions of high load on cognitive control processes such as working memory (Lavie & Dalton, 2013; de Fockert, 2013). Evidence agrees that if a task imposes high perceptual demands, task-irrelevant distractors can often be ignored successfully. However, whether high cognitive load increases distractor processing, or protects from distraction is an ongoing debate.


To investigate the neural correlates underpinning cognitive load on suppression of distracting visual stimuli.

To understand the neural correlates responsible for mediating individual differences in susceptibility to distraction.

To establish if measures of distractibility can be used as diagnostic tests to predict which individuals are more susceptible to distraction in daily life.

The project will combine electroencephalography (EEG)/ event-related potential (ERP) technique (1st year); EEG/ERP with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) (2nd year) and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) (3rd Year).

Supervisory team:

PI: Dr Giorgio Fuggetta. Co-I: Dr Ray Norbury

Further information:

Informal enquiries should be directed to


Applicants are expected to have a first or upper second-class undergraduate degree in experimental psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience or a related degree and a relevant Masters qualification, or an undergraduate degree with significant research experience (e.g. student assistant in a laboratory). Good programming skills (e.g. E-prime, Matlab) and experience with human neuroscience techniques (fMRI, TMS/tDCS and/or EEG/MEG) are highly desirable. The successful candidate should be available to start in January 2018.

The application process.

To apply, please email the following to with RPS Psychology Studentship AND the first three words of the project title in the subject heading.

1) Your CV, with copies of your academic qualifications. 

2) A cover letter stating why you are applying, including your expertise and relevant skills. Please also address, in two paragraphs, why you are interested in this specific project.

3) A completed Application Form (RDB1) downloadable at

4) Note that references are to be submitted by your referees separately to this email address by the deadline.

Applications closing date: 12.00 midday Friday 3rd November 2017

Interviews to be held:  November 2017, date to be confirmed.

Start date for post: 6th January 2018.   

* Prospective students should visit for details on funding and how to apply. Recipients will receive equivalent to Home/EU fees. Recipients paying overseas fees will be required to pay the difference between Home/EU and overseas tuition fee rates.

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