Measuring effects of ageing on cortical activity during sensory integration and posture-cognitive multitasking using functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS).
Applications are now CLOSED
Populations around the world are rapidly ageing, with 29% of people expected to be over 65 by 2050. A key issue in ageing research is decline in postural control and falls, because falls lead to hip fractures, loss of independence and in many cases death, and cost the NHS £2.3 billion every year. Two key aspects of age-related decline in postural control are sensory integration and posture-cognitive multitasking. Sensory integration is challenged when people step into a new environment (e.g. a boat). When this happens older adults show a greater increase in instability compared to young adults, both when the environment becomes unreliable, but even more so, and for longer when the reliable environment (e.g. land) is restored. This evidence reflects age-related slowing in integrating sensory information which is critical for fall prevention. Postural control is also challenged when it is performed in a multitask setting, because while standing we also perform other tasks like talking, or checking our phone. For this reason postural control is often assessed in a posture-cognitive multitask context in which participants perform individual tasks separately (posture, memory) and then concurrently. Young and older adults behave very differently during multitasking, with young adults focusing primarily on the cognitive task and older adults focusing on posture (posture-first strategy) especially when instability increases to avoid falls. Even though previous research has assessed these two challenged behaviourally, little is known about brain mechanisms of postural control in older adults. This is because many neuroimaging techniques cannot be used during standing and walking. However, a recently developed neuroimaging technique, functional Near InfraRed Spectroscopy (fNIRS) can be used to investigate metabolic activity in cortical areas involved in these tasks. The aim of this PhD project is to assess age-related changes in brain function during sensory integration and posture-cognitive multitasking using fNIRS.
The School of Psychology has a thriving, well-resourced and engaged PhD community that is central to its research environment. Students are strategically appointed to research projects with the express purpose of enhancing research capacity and development in prioritised areas for which the School aims to enhance world-leading research.
MODE OF STUDY / DURATION
Registration is on a full-time or part-time basis, under the direction of a supervisory team appointed by the University. You will be expected to submit your thesis at the end of three years of full-time registration for PhD, or two years for MPhil (or part-time equivalent).
The School of Psychology has a postgraduate research community of around 50 PhD students who are very well resourced and supported in their research.
The School has made extensive material investments in infrastructure, including two computer labs and access to several suites of dedicated research labs, to support their research.
Students are a central part of the research environment of the School and participate in School-level seminars and research meetings.
Students are expected and encouraged to publish during their PhD research and are supported in doing so through their research training.
Subject-specific postgraduate modules in research design and methods are delivered as part of the PhD training portfolio to complement the generic University training and further topic-specific research training is also available.
Other opportunities exist to attract funding from non-governmental sources. Current and previous PhD sponsors include professional services firms, international Governments, charities, and technology companies. We also welcome self-funding students on a full-time or part-time basis.
The School of Psychology at Queen's ranked in the top 10 psychology departments in the UK for research intensity in REF 2014 and provides an excellent environment in which to carry out PhD research.
One distinctive aspect of the PhD experience in the School of Psychology is the high level of spontaneous peer-support, initiative, and engagement among this community of Doctoral researchers. This is valued and fostered by the School through its support of the postgraduate conference and postgraduate week activities as well as wide-ranging involvement of research students across many aspects of School life.
Our PhD community also organizes numerous social events each year that are very popular amongst both staff and students. There is a range of sources of funding available for PhD students. Every year the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland (DEL) funds a number of PhD students to undertake research on pre-specified topics within the School of Psychology. These topics and the names of the associated supervisors are typically advertised online in December with a closing date in February. Last year's topics spanned research topics across Development, Social, Cognitive and Biological Psychology. Selected applicants are invited to interview and the successful candidate is offered a fully funded place with fees paid and an annual maintenance stipend for the three years of the PhD. Eligibility criteria can be found at: http://go.qub.ac.uk/delterms
Students who wish to self-fund or explore external funding sources are advised to peruse our staff webpages (http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/psy/Staff/) and to contact potential supervisors to discuss potential topics. Most students continue within academia to take up postdoctoral research positions, fellowships or lectureships in psychology. Some continue into clinical or educational psychology training while others take up research positions in the private and public sectors.
For further information on career opportunities at PhD level please contact the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences Student Recruitment Team on askEPS@qub.ac.uk. Our advisors - in consultation with the School - will be happy to provide further information on your research area, possible career prospects and your research application.
People teaching you
School of Psychology
The minimum academic requirement for admission to a research degree programme is normally an Upper Second Class Honours degree from a UK or ROI HE provider, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Further information can be obtained by contacting the School.
For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.
English Language Requirements
Evidence of an IELTS* score of 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University, is required (*taken within the last 2 years).
International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.
For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see: www.qub.ac.uk/EnglishLanguageReqs.
If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be offering Academic English and Pre-sessional courses online only from June to September 2020.
|Northern Ireland (NI)||£4,407|
|England, Scotland or Wales (GB)||£4,407|
|Other (non-UK) EU||£4,407|
Depending on the area of research chosen there may be extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees.
Additional course costs
Depending on the programme of study, there may also be other extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies . Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £100 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges. Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen. There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, and library fines. In undertaking a research project students may incur costs associated with transport and/or materials, and there will also be additional costs for printing and binding the thesis. There may also be individually tailored research project expenses and students should consult directly with the School for further information.
How do I fund my study?1.PhD Opportunities
Find PhD opportunities and funded studentships by subject area.2.Doctoral Training Centres at Queen's
Queen's has eight outstanding competitive Doctoral Training Centres, with each one providing funding for a number of PhD positions and most importantly a hub for carrying out world class research in key disciplines.3.PhD loans
The Government offers doctoral loans of up to £26,445 for PhDs and equivalent postgraduate research programmes for English- or Welsh-resident UK and EU students, £10,000 for students in Scotland and up to £5,500 for Northern Ireland students.4.International Scholarships
Information on Postgraduate Research scholarships for international students.
Funding and Scholarships
The Funding & Scholarship Finder helps prospective and current students find funding to help cover costs towards a whole range of study related expenses.
How to Apply
Find a supervisor
If you're interested in a particular project, we suggest you contact the relevant academic before you apply, to introduce yourself and ask questions.
To find a potential supervisor aligned with your area of interest, or if you are unsure of who to contact, look through the staff profiles linked here.
You might be asked to provide a short outline of your proposal to help us identify potential supervisors.