Symmetry and asymmetry in neural sensorimotor signal pathways


Contact Dr Jung-uk Shim to discuss this project further informally.

Project description

This project will explore signal propagation mechanisms and dynamics in a sensory-motor pathway in a living, behaving animal. Like most animals, the microscopic roundworm C. elegans possesses left-right symmetry. However, unlike mammalian brains, the animal contains a very simple nervous system with only 302 neurons and is, by far, the best characterised animal model systems in biology. Many neurons in this system develop with left-right symmetry and often (but not always) their responses appear synchronised (unpublished results).

A microfluidic device, already developed by the supervisors (to be submitted) enables us to simultaneously record a signal reflecting the electrical activation of left-right pairs of neurons, as the animal is subjected to controlled chemical stimuli. We will use this device to explore mechanisms of synchronisation and its break-down in pairs of left-right cells. Of particular interest are two sub-questions:

1) What governs the synchrony (or lack thereof) in neurons that fire stochastically?

2) Can we map out the synchrony of pairs of neurons in motor circuits that govern steering and navigation in 2D and in 3D?

The results of the latter will contribute to a closely related project in the Cohen lab in which animals are imaged while freely moving in a three dimensional volume.

Entry requirements

Applications are invited from candidates with, or expecting, a minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree (2:1) in a relevant discipline, a Master's degree in a relevant discipline, or both.

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University’s minimum English Language requirements.

How to apply

Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the university's website. Please state clearly in the research information section that the PhD you wish to be considered for is 'Symmetry and asymmetry in neural sensorimotor signal pathways' as well as Dr Jung-uk Shim as your proposed supervisor.

We welcome scholarship applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.

If you require any further information please contact the Graduate School Office, e: