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Cardiff University PhD Studentship in Psychology, UK

Publish Date: Mar 01, 2016

Deadline: Mar 16, 2016

Cardiff University PhD Studentship in Psychology

Why do we remember some information easily for the rest of our lives but we forget other information immediately? It is clear that learning depends on the characteristics and processing of information. However, very little is known about how motivational states affect the likelihood of memory retention. Recently, we have shown that activity in the mesolimbic dopaminergic circuit during motivation enhances learning and later memory consolidation processes. My group at Cardiff University will use a multi-modal approach to investigate how motivational states contribute to memory enhancement. In order to translate our findings to real-life learning situations, we are not only interested in the role of extrinsic motivational states (e.g., reward) on memory but also how intrinsic motivational states (e.g., via curiosity or exploration) enhance memory processes. The new state-of-the-art Cardiff University Brain Imaging Centre (CUBRIC) will provide an excellent opportunity to the successful candidate to answer cutting-edge questions in motivation and memory research. Available techniques include structural and functional MRI (3T, 7T, and microstructure 3T), M/EEG, and brain stimulation.

For key publications, please see:

  • Gruber et al. (2014). States of curiosity modulate hippocampus-dependent learning via the dopaminergic circuit. Neuron, 84 (2), 486-496.
  • Gruber et al. (in press). Post-learning hippocampal dynamics promote preferential retention of rewarding events. Neuron. (Accepted manuscript will be sent upon request)


The studentships will commence in October 2016, and will cover your tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant. In 2015-16 the maintenance grant for full-time students was £14,057 per annum. As well as tuition fees and a maintenance grant, you will receive a participant allowance of £300 per annum, and conference funding (£100 in Year 1, £600 in Years 2 and 3). You will also receive a computer and office space, and access to courses offered by the University's Graduate Centre and become members of the University Graduate College.

The successful candidate will have access to a wide range of state-of-the-art research facilities and resources, including a sleep lab, 3T and 7T MRI scanners, EEG/MEG and behavioural testing labs, and high-performance computing cluster.


To be competitive, you will have, or expect to gain, a first class/good upper second degree, or a distinction/merit at masters level, in a relevant subject, with a good knowledge of the biological basis of cognition (e.g. psychology, biological science, bioinformatics). You will need to prove your ability to carry out research (you will need to present some research you are doing or have done in the interview, e.g. in an undergraduate, masters or summer project). You will be able to learn fast, work in a team across diverse research areas and with animals, understand complex problems and apply practical solutions. You will need to have good numerical and communication skills. The project will require programming skills for developing the behavioural task and data analysis; experience with programming is desirable, but not essential, so long as you have enthusiasm and aptitude to learn

The successful candidate will be an enthusiastic individual with a desire to conduct innovative research in motivation and memory. You will have, or expect to gain, a first class/good upper second degree, or a distinction/merit at masters level, in psychology, biology, neuroscience, or engineering/computer science (with good knowledge of human sensory systems). Research experience in psychology, neuroscience and/or brain imaging is desirable but not essential.

You will need to have good written and oral communication skills, and be able to work in a team. You will need to have experience of using standard software for data analysis (e.g., R, Excel, SPSS) and at least intermediate level programming skills (e.g., Matlab, Python).

Residency: This studentship is open to students of any nationality. Students classified as international for fee purposes have to self-fund the difference between home and international fees.

How to Apply

Consideration is automatic on applying for RFPDPSYA – Doctor of Philosophy , with a start date of 1 October 2016 via Cardiff University's Online Application Service. In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project and copy the project description in the text box provided. In the funding section, please select "I will be applying for a scholarship / grant" and specify that you are applying for advertised funding from School Funding.

The deadline for applications is 16 March 2016 - with interviews (either in person or by Skype) being held early April 2016 and decisions being made by 31st April 2016.

Cardiff University reserves the right to close applications early should sufficient applications be received.

Further Information

For further information please contact Dr Matthias Gruber on

This opportunity has expired. It was originally published here:

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United Kingdom