There is a growing body of research that suggests that brain stimulation can improve some cognitive functions (e.g. Cappelleti et al., 2013). Some evidence suggests that cognitive training in combination with brain stimulation may be particularly effective (Looi, Duta, Brem, Huber, Nuerk & Kadosh, 2016). However, there are very few replication studies within this field.
This project will attempt to replicate and extend a study by Looi et al. (2016) that established that an intervention that required participants to physically move along a number line to make fraction estimates in combination with Transcranial Direct Current stimulation (tDCS) improved performance in number line estimation and working memory.
Individual participant detail will be collected including demographic and specific information regarding day to day activities around testing days (including exercise, caffeine, sleep etc). This material will be gathered as these factors have been suggested to influence an individual’s response to non-invasive brain stimulation and will help us account for variability between individuals (Li, Uehara & Hanakawa, 20015; Wiethoff, Hamada & Rothwell, 2014).
Objectives of the Research:
(1)To conduct a pre-registered replication the study by Looi et al. (2016).
(2)To extend the study by Looi et al. (2016) by assessing if physical movement is an essential component of the intervention. This will involve comparing performance from a physical movement intervention group to a table-top intervention group.
(3)To assess the impact of individual differences on responsiveness to tDCS
Methods to be used:
This project will utilise the Cognitive Neuroscience lab on Coleraine Campus, Ulster University. Experimental neuroscience and psychology techniques will be used in this study, including Transcranial Magnetic Brain Stimulation (TMS), Transcranial Direct Current stimulation (tDCS), Eye-tracking. Full training will be provided on all experimental techniques.
Skills required of applicant:
Candidates should have at least an upper second class first degree in an area with relevance to the research area for the studentship. This includes, but is not exclusive to: Psychology, Neuroscience, Health Science, Physiotherapy and Occupational therapy.
Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study.
We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.
In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.
Funding and eligibility
The Doctoral College at Ulster University
Completing the MRes provided me with a lot of different skills, particularly in research methods and lab skills.
Michelle Clements Clements - MRes - Life and Health SciencesWatch Video
I got my BSc in Psychology at Ulster and brought my interest in behavioural epigenetics to my PhD, testing the effect of prenatal maternal levels of socialisation on the mental health of children.My proudest moment was sending the email to submit my thesis in mid-September 2020, looking back on the 6 months I spent in lockdown, working for 10 hours a day sometimes, 7 days a week. I knew that in that instant, as I clicked 'Send', I'd made so many people proud of me but especially my wife, my clinician parents, my supervisors, and my friends in the doctoral cohort.
Erik Spikol - PhD in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience
I completed my BSc in Health Studies many years ago and studied part-time through most of my career in child & adolescent mental health completing two MScs in the process. I was privileged to have received a Public Health Agency funded R&D fellowship which allowed me to complete my PhD full-time. I conducted a clinical study focused on autism trait prevalence in people attending specialist gender services in Northern Ireland under the supervision of Professor Gerard Leavey, Dr Michael Rosato and Professor Hugh McKenna.I am proud to have finished my PhD during one of the most challenging years ever. I couldn`t have got through this without the support of my supervisors and experts by experience who supported my research. I`ll never forget the generosity of participants who allowed me some insight into their lives.
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I completed my degree in Forensic Psychobiology at Abertay University Dundee. I then completed a MSc in Health Psychology at Ulster University and published my research on the benefits of Yoga on the psychological well-being of first time mums, supervised by Dr Liz Simpson. I started my PhD at Ulster University following the completion of my MSc in Health Psychology.One of my proudest moments was having the opportunity to lead an international collaborative piece of research, spending time in Rome with Italian researchers, which led to a publication. I am very proud to have completed my PhD during a very challenging time through the Covid-19 pandemic and completing with 3 published papers. Doing a PhD is a transformational journey, and my supervisors played a crucial role in my success.
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Ann Doherty - PhD in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience
My PhD journey as a part-time student was not straight forward and I am delighted to have completed my PhD under the phenomenal supervision of Prof. Siobhan O'Neill and Dr. Edel Ennis. I completed my undergraduate degree in Psychology and Masters in Addiction Studies in Dublin Business School, as well as gaining a PgDip in Applied Behaviour Analysis from NUI Galway. My PhD research looked at unemployment and mental health examining the process of being unemployed and seeking work. It also looked at suicidal ideation with people who experienced unemployment.A PhD part-time is hard, particularly as life will drag your attention off course from time to time! During the course of my PhD journey I got married, built a house and had a baby. There were definitely times when I didn't think I'd get here. My advice to anyone is 'keep going', it will be hard at times but it will be worth it. Surround yourself with people who understand the commitment needed and come up with some good one liners
Maeve Murphy - PhD in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience
My name is Nargis Khan and I am originally from Pakistan. I first came to Ulster University to study psychology at the undergraduate level and later joined a doctoral course which I have now successfully completed. I had a fantastic time studying in Ulster at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level. Throughout my PhD, I was well catered for in terms of resources with access to well-stocked libraries full of friendly and helpful staff, funding to travel to conferences, the availability of various courses (e.g., statistics) and above all a supportive and stimulating environment which fostered my academic development. The seminars organised during the term time allowed me to present my work and hear about the research of others across a range of areas. I particularly appreciated the teaching opportunities available to me during my PhD. My supervisors were supportive and generous with their time. Other members of staff in the Psychology department also took a genuine interest in the
Nargis Khan - PhD in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience