PhD Studentship

Multimodal understanding of decision-making in the human brain

Project Description

Acting based on intention is a fundamental ability to our lives. Apple or orange, cash or card: we constantly make intentional decisions to fulfill our desires, even when the options have no explicit difference in their rewards.

This PhD project will combine brain imaging at different modalities (functional and structural MRI, MR spectroscopy and Magnetoencephalography) with computational modelling to understand how the human brain makes intentional decision, and how intentional decisions differ between and within individuals. This project will focus on healthy individuals. In the long run, results from this project may have implications to the mechanistic understanding of decision deficits in patients with neurodegenerative diseases.
The studentship links to a European Research Council grant held by Dr Jiaxiang Zhang at the Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC). The student on this project would receive multidisciplinary training in cognitive neuroscience, brain imaging and computational modelling. We encourage students from different disciplines (e.g., cognitive neuroscience, imaging neuroscience, psychology, computer science, mathematics or physics).

Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC) houses state-of-the-art brain imaging facilities and world-leading expertise, with 4 human MRI systems (2 x Siemens Prisma, 1 x Siemens Connectom, 1 x Siemens 7T), MEG, EEG, TMS, tDCS, clinical research units and testing labs. Further details of CUBRIC can be found on our web-page:

Funding Notes

The studentships will commence in October 2017, and will cover your tuition fees (at UK/EU level) as well as a maintenance grant. In 2016-17 the maintenance grant for full-time students was £14,296 per annum. As well as tuition fees and a maintenance grant, all School of Psychology students receive conference and participant money (approx. £2250 for the duration of the studentship).They also receive a computer and office space, additional funding for their research, and access to courses offered by the University’s Doctoral Academy and become members of the University Doctoral Academy.


Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open to UK Nationals, and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements. To be eligible for the full award, EU Nationals must have been in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the course for which they are seeking funding, including for the purposes of full-time education. As only one studentship is available and a very high standard of applications is typically received, the successful applicant is likely to have a very good first degree (a First or Upper Second class BSc Honours or equivalent) and/or be distinguished by having relevant research experience.

You can apply online – consideration is automatic on applying for a PhD in Psychology, with an October 2017 start date (programme code RFPDPSYA). Please use our online application service and specify in the funding section that you wish to be considered for School funding. Please specify that you are applying for this particular project.