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SPM  February 2012

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Subject:

4 year PhD studentships to study Sleep and Memory in Manchester

From:

Penny Lewis <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Penny Lewis <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 19:28:47 +0000

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***Two 4 year PhD studentships are available  in the Sleep and Memory Lab at the
University of Manchester.  Please see below for details***

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Project Title:  Sleep, emotional memory, and depression

Depression affects 121 million people worldwide. Existing treatments
are often ineffective. Sleep abnormalities are a core feature of
depression, but their relationship to the disease aetiology is poorly
understood. Deeper knowledge of this relationship could lead to the
development of novel treatments which rely on altered sleep patterns.

Sleep disturbances are some of the earliest warning signs of
depression, which is characterised by reduced slow wave sleep (SWS)
and increased rapid eye movement sleep (REM). Most antidepressant
drugs reverse these effects by enhancing SWS and depressing REM.
Because REM is believed to selectively strengthen negative memories,
it is possible that excessive REM in depression may serve to lower
mood by over-consolidating negative memories. Depressed patients tend
to find negative information more salient, and to remember it
preferentially even when not consolidated across sleep.

This PhD will investigate the impact of REM on negative memories in
depression at both behavioural and neural levels. Behaviourally, we
will determine whether negative memories are selectively strengthened
over sleep in depressed patients, and whether this strengthening is
predicted by the amount of REM obtained. Neurally, we will focus on
activity in two brain structures called the hippocampus and amygdala,
and on connectivity between these. These structures are involved in
emotional memory, and are more active and interconnected during
retrieval of negative information after sleep. We hypothesise that
these effects are mediated by REM and emphasised in depression.

The research will deepen our understanding of the interaction between
sleep, negative memories and depression. It could also lead to new
treatment strategies through manipulations of REM sleep.

This 4-year studentship provides full support for tuition fees, all
associated research costs and an annual tax-free stipend at minimum
Research Council rates (£13, 590 in 2011). The project is due to
commence October 2012 and is open to UK/EU nationals only due to the
nature of the funding.

The successful candidate will benefit from extensive training in fMRI,
sleep data analysis and working with depressed patients. Previous PhD
graduates from our group have progressed into prestigious postdoctoral
positions within cognitive neuroscience and sleep/memory research.

Applicants should hold a minimum upper-second honours degree (or
equivalent) in neuroscience, psychology or related area. A Masters in
a similar field and previous research experience involving
computing/statistics would be an advantage.

Please direct applications in the following format to Dr Penny Lewis
([log in to unmask]):

• Academic CV
• Official academic transcripts
• Contact details for two suitable referees
• A personal statement (750 words maximum) outlining your suitability
for the study, what you hope to achieve from the PhD and your research
experience to date.

Any enquiries relating to the project and/or suitability should be
directed to Dr Lewis at the address above. Applications are invited up
to and including Tuesday 6 March 2012.

http://www.psych-sci.manchester.ac.uk/staff/PennyLewis
http://www.psych-sci.manchester.ac.uk/naru/



---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Project Title:  Entraining activity in the sleeping brain to optimize
memory consolidation

Sleep plays a role in memory consolidation, but is there any way to
influence the type of sleep we obtain? Work with transcranial direct
current stimulation (tDCS) shows that judicious stimulation can push
the brain into slow wave sleep (SWS) when it might otherwise have
remained in shallow sleep. This 'entrained' SWS leads to improved
consolidation of declarative memories.  nterestingly, other types of
memory are believed to rely upon oscillations at other frequencies for
consolidation. For instance theta frequency (3-7 Hz) during REM sleep
is critical for emotional memory consolidation, while localised sleep
spindles (10-14 Hz) in Stage2 are critical for procedural memory
consolidation. In wake, tDCS at encoding can lead to memory
enhancements. This advantage could be due to facilitated encoding, but
potentiation also leads to localised enhancements in subsequent
spindles and SWS so facilitation >24hrs after stimulation could also
be due to superior consolidation during sleep.

Here, we examine the impact of tDCS stimulation, both at encoding and
during sleep, upon consolidation. The PhD research will ask whether
such stimulation could lead to a selective consolidation of emotional
or procedural memories. We also explore the neural correlates of any
facilitation observed.

This work is important because it may lead to the development of new
technologies for facilitation of learning and consolidation.

This PhD studentship provides full support for tuition fees and an
annual minimum tax-free stipend of £13, 590. The project is available
to UK/EU nationals only due to the nature of the funding and is due to
commence October 2012. Full eligibility guidance can be found from the
link below.

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a minimum upper-second
honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant psychology, neuroscience
or mathematics subject.

This PhD project is one of a number currently available across the
University of Manchester in the areas of biological sciences,
biotechnology and bioenergy. The projects form part of our newly
launched ‘Doctoral Training Partnership’ (DTP) scheme, delivering a
totally novel approach to doctoral training in the biosciences.

Full details on the application process and summaries of the remaining
projects can be found on the DTP website:

http://www.dtpstudentships.ls.manchester.ac.uk/

Any enquiries relating to the application process should be directed
to Jessica Bowler ([log in to unmask]).

Enquiries relating to the project and/or suitability should be
directed to Dr Penny Lewis at [log in to unmask]

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