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PhD studentship available at IHR/University of Nottingham, UK

PhD studentship: Mode-locked encoding of periodic stimuli in the auditory system.


In response to periodic stimuli neurons in the auditory system fire action potentials synchronized to the stimulus waveform: a process termed phase-locking.  However, we have recently shown that responses of cochlear nucleus chopper cells respond to periodic stimuli (AM tones and steady-state vowels) with higher order periodic spiking patterns (Laudanski et al. 2010, J. Neurophysiol. PMID 20042702). These complex forms of locking are known as ‘mode-locking’. Mode-locking is well known in mathematics through the theory of non-linear oscillators, of which integrate-and-fire models of neurons are an example.


The central questions of this PhD studentship will be: is the timing of spikes ‘mode-locked’ to periodic stimuli elsewhere in the auditory system, and what role might it play in auditory processing? It will involve analysis of existing physiological data, the collection of novel data, the development of large scale computational models and analytic mathematical methods to help understand the role of mode locking for stimulus representation in the auditory system. This will be an interdisciplinary project, requiring good mathematical and programming skills, and an interest in auditory neuroscience. It will lead to a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Nottingham.


Applicants should have, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second class degree in Mathematics, Statistics, or a closely related subject. Studentships are competitive and will begin in September 2010, and are funded for  4 years.  To be eligible for an MRC Studentship, applicants must be a UK national or have suitable links to the UK. EU applicants can apply for fees-only awards.  Informal enquires can be made to Dr Chris Sumner (chris@xxxxxxxxxxxxx), Prof. Steve Coombes (stephen.coombes@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx) or Prof. Alan Palmer (alan@xxxxxxxxxxxxx). Further details and the application process can be found at