PhD Studentship - Brain Imaging Reward and Avoidance Circuits in the Adolescent Brain

University of Sheffield

Fully Funded PhD Scholarship in Psychology at the University of Sheffield

This is one of many projects in competition for the current funding opportunities available within the Department of Psychology

Project title: Brain Imaging reward and avoidance circuits in the adolescent brain

Primary supervisor: Dr Liat Levita

Project description: Adolescence is a prolonged developmental period in the transition to adulthood that is characterised by significant changes in behaviour, cognition, emotion, and on going brain maturation processes. It is a period associated with high levels of emotionality, anxiety and also higher levels of harmful risk taking behaviours (e.g., Casey et al, 2008; Steinberg et al., 2008). The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is a brain area crucially involved in action selection, and reward and avoidance mediated learning, and it is a brain region which is still not fully mature during adolescence. The aim of this project is to explore further how the PFC and related regions (Levita et al, 2015; Howsley & Levita, 2017) process information during adolescence (especially positive and negative outcomes). Unravelling the neuronal circuits underlying these functions in adolescence is essential to understand their operation and understand why adolescents take more risks and why it is an age of enhanced vulnerability to developing mental health disorders and also an age associated with a significant risk of developing disorders of drug abuse and misuse. State of the art electrophysiological (EEG) and fMRI techniques will be used to investigate this question.

Start date: 1 October 2018

Requirements: Applicants must have a minimum of a first class or high upper second-class undergraduate honours degree and a distinction or high merit at Masters level in psychology or a related discipline.

Funding: Tuition fees £4,194 per year Living Expenses £14,500.00

Science Graduate School

As a PhD student in one of the science departments at the University of Sheffield, you'll be part of the Science Graduate School. You'll get access to training opportunities designed to support your career development by helping you gain professional skills that are essential in all areas of science. You'll be able to learn how to recognise good research and research behaviour, improve your communication abilities and experience the breadth of technologies that are used in academia, industry and many related careers. Visit to learn more.

For further details and the application process please visit:

Closing date for applications is 5pm Wednesday 24 January 2018

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