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PhD Studentship: Measuring differences in neural inhibition in people with Tinnitus


Location:  UK Other
Closing Date:  Tuesday 30 April 2024
Reference:  MED2005

About the project:

Applications are invited for a 3-year fully funded PhD studentship to study the brain-based causes of tinnitus (the perception of an illusory sound). The project will be under the supervision of Joseph Sollini (Primary supervisor, School of Medicine, University of Nottingham), Derek Hoare (Lead of NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre, hearing theme) and Magdelena Sereda (NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre, University of Nottingham) and based in the Auditory Cortical Circuits Lab (Hearing Sciences, School of Medicine) at the University of Nottingham.

Project details:

Tinnitus (often described as ringing in the ears), can be a debilitating disorder. At best it disrupts people’s lives, but sometimes it can become so distressing as to lead to suicidal thoughts or worse. As with all disorders we hope to try to understand the mechanism that cause it, to ultimately develop treatments or cures. The mechanism that creates the tinnitus percept is currently unknown, although, work from animal studies provides clues as to the types of changes that might be occurring in the brain. For example, animals with tinnitus demonstrate decreases in inhibitory neurotransmitter (a chemical used to, amongst other things, regulate neural activity). In this PhD you will apply a range of targeted hearing tests and neuroscience measures (electroencephalogram, aka EEG, and Optically Pumped Magnetometers, aka OPM-MEG) in people with tinnitus to test whether they experience a decrease in inhibitory neurotransmitter and, hopefully, improve our understanding of the neural mechanism of tinnitus. 

We are looking for a highly motivated and curious individual with a 1st/2.1 bachelors or masters in psychology, neuroscience or biological sciences or related academic profile (we will accept applications from those looking to transition from other fields, particularly maths/physics/computer science). If successful, you will join a multi-disciplinary team of auditory neuroscientists, psychophysicists and hearing-health experts who will help train you to deliver high-quality neuroscientific research. Specifically, you will be trained to perform carefully calibrated human psychophysical experiments (to test different aspects of hearing performance), deliver questionnaires, and measure neural activity (with a choice of either EEG or the newly developed OPM-MEG technique). In addition, you will be trained to statistically analyse your data with “off the shelf” (e.g. SPSS) and customisable software programs (e.g. MATLAB/Python). Prior experience with any of these tools or techniques is an advantage.

About the University of Nottingham…

Nottingham is a vibrant city with a large student population and a range of food/drink, cultural and entertainment venues and opportunities. It is ranked as the 9th best city in the UK for students and 50th in the world, according to the QS Best Student Cities 2023. The University of Nottingham is in UK’s top 20 of the QS World University Rankings 2023 and 7th in the UK for research power. The University of Nottingham is home to the world-class Sir Peter Mansfield imaging centre, specialising in human imaging techniques including fMRI (we currently have a up to 7T Tesla MRI but will soon have the UKs only 11.7T Tesla MRI) and MEG (OPM-MEG as well as CTF). 

About hearing sciences at the University of Nottingham… 

Nottingham has been at the centre of hearing and tinnitus research in the UK for over 45 years. We use insights generated from the lived experience of people and the clinic to guide the basic science that we do. We study how the auditory system works, how and why it can go wrong, and what we can do to help those with problems by technology or treatment strategies. We are a core theme of the Nottingham NIHR Biomedical Research Centre and also hold major grants or fellowships from NIHR, UKRI (MRC, EPSRC), and industry.

Funding status: This studentship is funded by the NIHR (National Institute of Health and Care Research) Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre. The studentship will cover home University rates which includes a stipend of £ 19,553.10 per annum and tuition fees. UK/Home students only.

Application deadline: 30th April 2024

Project title: Measuring differences in neural inhibition in people with Tinnitus

Location: Hearing Sciences, Building 40, University Park Campus, Nottingham. 

Subject area:

Neuroscience, Psychology, Hearing, Psychophysics, Perception

Studentship start date: Either 1st of July or 1st of October 2024. Duration is 36 months full time.

How to apply:

Please email with the following documents and put “Neural Inhibition in tinnitus PhD studentship” in the title. 

  • A maximum of a 2-page C.V. 
  • Degree certificate and transcript (if already graduated) or a recent transcript.
  • 800 words personal statement (maximum but excludes references) about why you are interested in doing this PhD, how the ideas outlined align with your interests and experiences and any specific ideas you have for research projects you have in this area.
  • Either two references (in a non-editable format, on headed paper and signed by the referee) or the details of two referees that we can contact. One of the references must be academic.

Additional enquiries:

Informal enquiries may be addressed to Joseph Sollini email:    

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