Fully-funded PhD Studentship: The neuroscience of voice perception
Bangor University, School of Psychology
Qualification type: PhD
Location: Bangor University, Wales
Closing date for applications: 12th March 2021
Supervisor: Dr Patricia Bestelmeyer
Funding amount: The studentship covers the full cost of tuition fees, plus a tax-free maintenance stipend of approximately £15,280 per annum for three years and a research allowance of £750 per annum
Hours:Full-time, commencing between August and October 2021.
Applications are invited for a fully funded 3-year PhD studentship under the supervision of Dr Patricia Bestelmeyer. The position is fully funded by the School of Psychology at Bangor University and will commence before October 2021. Applicants should approach Dr Bestelmeyer to discuss the possibility of part-time study and alternate start dates, if desired.
The research area will be in auditory neuroscience and tailored to the interests of the successful applicant and the supervisory team. Dr Bestelmeyer’s research broadly concerns how we extract information from the sound of a person’s voice. In addition to linguistic content, voices convey other kinds of socially relevant information, for example, the identity of a speaker or their emotional state. Below are possible directions the successful candidate might want to explore:
Neuroimaging has revealed areas in the brain that are sensitive to voices compared to other environmental sounds. The function of these “temporal voice areas” remains largely unexplored. For example, are these areas truly voice-specific? And if so, is activation within these areas related to how good we are at recognising speakers from their voice alone? The role of the temporal voice areas in the left and right hemispheres for different aspects of voice perception remain virtually unknown. One avenue the successful candidate could explore with fMRI and/or TMS is whether these voice-sensitive patches are analogous to the occipital and fusiform face areas in face perception research. Another direction could be more clinical, in which focus would be on the anatomical correlates of participants who are super-recognisers versus individuals on the opposite, or phonagnosic, end of the voice recognition spectrum.
Projects that are currently being run in the lab are diverse but broadly related (e.g. the influence of context on the perception of vocal expressions and the social inferences drawn about speakers of different regional accents). Dr Bestelmeyer therefore welcomes discussions of the student’s own topics of interest within voice perception. Her lab’s publications can be found here.
Dr Bestelmeyer’s lab focuses on trying to better understand how we extract often subtle information carried by a speaker’s voice and how this signal often implicitly influences our behaviour. The lab runs several projects on diverse topics in auditory neuroscience and meets regularly to collaborate and discuss. You will be given the opportunity to mentor undergraduate and postgraduate students who are working on lab projects. The School of Psychology offers postgraduate researchers access to outstanding research facilities, for example, you will have access to a brand new, research-only 3T Philips Elition housed in the Psychology building. The School also houses an open access sound booth (for voice recordings/filming), BioSemi EEG lab and a MagStim TMS lab. Our research community is vibrant and hosts regular research seminars and events targeted at broader professional development of our postgraduate students. The School was established in 1963 and now has one of the largest student cohorts in the UK and a cosmopolitan feel due to the presence of staff and students from over 20 countries. It has consistently performed exceptionally well in the UK’s annual National Student Survey (6th in NSS 2020) and is currently ranked in the UK’s top 20 for research activity in the most recent Research Excellence Framework assessment (REF 2014). Bangor is situated among the breath-taking landscape of North Wales. Bangor is a friendly and affordable university city, perched on the Irish Sea and with its back against Snowdonia National Park. There is easy access to beautiful beaches, mountains, lakes and rivers, while maintaining good transport links to some of the UK’s larger cities, including Manchester and London.
The successful applicant will have:
- A Master’s degree in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, neuroimaging, computer science, audiology or related field and a first class or good upper second-class undergraduate degree in psychology.
- A strong work ethic and genuine enthusiasm for research
- The ability to work both independently and cooperatively
- The ability to communicate effectively, with evidence of strong scientific writing skills
- A willingness to learn programming experiments and analysing data in Matlab
This studentship is primarily aimed at UK students. However, those who are interested, but are from outside of the UK, should contact Dr Bestelmeyer to discuss the conditions for the funding of international students.
All PhD students are expected to contribute to teaching in the School. The initial appointment for the position will be for a period of one year, with an extension of 2 years after positive evaluation of capabilities and compatibility. The appointment must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis.
Further information: In the first instance please contact Dr Patricia Bestelmeyer (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss your application. Please include your CV and a brief summary of your research interests.
Before applying, please contact Dr Patricia Bestelmeyer (email@example.com). She will describe the topic of the research proposal that is required to apply. All applications submitted on Bangor’s online system must include:
1.) a current CV (2 pages maximum)
2.) a 1-2 page cover letter explaining your motivation to apply for the PhD position (this should also include a description of how you meet the required and desired skill set)
3.) a research proposal (1,000 words maximum) for an experiment (Dr Bestelmeyer will explain the details of this when you contact her)
4.) 2 academic references
5.) if relevant, proof of English Language Competency (7.0 IELTS minimum).
The online application form is available here: https://apps.bangor.ac.uk/applicant/.