Acceptance of Applications for the PhD Programme in Medical Sciences in the field of Neuroscience...

Updated: 6 months ago
Deadline: 13 Dec 2021

The PhD in Medical Sciences:

The University of Nicosia Medical School offers the degree PhD in Medical Sciences. The degree is awarded to students who successfully complete an independent research programme that breaks new ground in the chosen field of study. The PhD programme aspires to empower students to become independent researchers, thus advancing innovation and development.

The Research Project:

We are currently inviting application through a competitive process for high calibre candidates to apply for the below PhD Project in the field of Neuroscience. The successful candidate will enrol on the PhD programme in Medical Sciences and will work under the Supervision of Dr Avgis Hadjipapas, Professor of Neuroscience and Research Methods at the University of Nicosia Medical School. The project is based on a collaboration between the University of Nicosia Medical School, Maastricht University (MU) and the Cyprus Institute for Neurology and Genetics (CING).

Project Description:

Title of research project: Empirically-validated model of a cortical column expressing gamma oscillations.

Gamma oscillations from the awake, behaving animal which have been observed widely during sensory and cognitive processing (Bosman et al., 2014) can now be measured at multiple spatial scales (Hadjipapas et al., 2015) and across cortical depth (Roberts et al., 2013; van Kerkoerle et al., 2014). A key aim is to identify the true laminar network circuitry that produces these oscillations. In our previous work, a computational biophysical model was created and its unknown parameters were appropriately constrained such that it yielded realistic behaviour at the scale of single neurons and local field potential (LFP) (Zachariou et al., 2021). The model provided insight into the role of the excitatory and inhibitory neurons and external (thalamic) input in shaping the gamma oscillation as observed experimentally in primary visual cortex. However, the model was relatively simple, as it did not take into account the laminar structure of the cortex or important neuronal morphology, factors, which in turn affect the generation of population signals such as the LFP and the Electro-/Magneto-encephalogram (EEG/MEG). In this project we aim to construct an empirically-validated model of a cortical column, compartmentalised in cortical layers, which produces realistic gamma oscillations in the modelled LFP. To this end, we propose to implement a hybrid modelling scheme(Hagen et al., 2016), in which multicompartmental neuronal models will be used to derive accurate LFP forward models, while the multicompartment neurons themselves will be driven by our previously-derived empirically-validated models of networks consisting of point neurons. These in turn, will accurately encode the neuronal dynamics related to specific experimental observations. The model will be constrained at the laminar level by empirical data provided by the Maastricht partner, which are laminarly- resolved. The main outcome will be a computational model of a cortical column, which is empirically validated by laminarly-resolved data. This validated model can then be used for identifying mechanisms of gamma oscillations at the level of layers within a cortical column. The proposed project is part of a longer-term research program, the future outlook of which is to laterally expand this model. Such expanded models can then be used to simulate electrophysiological signals at multiple scales (spikes, LFP, ECoG, MEG), which in turn, can facilitate the interpretation of the experimentally-measured signals and their interrelations.

Successful candidates will benefit from interacting with an international consortium of neuroscientists throughout the duration of the project

References

Bosman, C.A., Lansink, C.S., Pennartz, C.M.A., 2014. Functions of gamma-band synchronization in cognition: from single circuits to functional diversity across cortical and subcortical systems. Eur. J. Neurosci. 39, 1982–1999. https://doi.org/10.1111/ejn.12606

Hadjipapas, A., Lowet, E., Roberts, M.J., Peter, A., De Weerd, P., 2015. Parametric variation of gamma frequency and power with luminance contrast: A comparative study of human MEG and monkey LFP and spike responses. Neuroimage 112, 327–340. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.02.062

Hagen, E., Dahmen, D., Stavrinou, M.L., Lindén, H., Tetzlaff, T., Albada, S.J. Van, Grün, S., Diesmann, M., Einevoll, G.T., 2016. Hybrid Scheme for Modeling Local Field Potentials from Point-Neuron Networks 4461–4496. https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhw237

Roberts, M.J., Lowet, E., Brunet, N.M., Ter Wal, M., Tiesinga, P., Fries, P., De Weerd, P., 2013. Robust gamma coherence between macaque V1 and V2 by dynamic frequency matching. Neuron 78, 523–36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2013.03.003

van Kerkoerle, T., Self, M.W., Dagnino, B., Gariel-Mathis, M.A., Poort, J., van der Togt, C., Roelfsema, P.R., 2014. Alpha and gamma oscillations characterize feedback and feedforward processing in monkey visual cortex. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111, 14332–14341. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1402773111

Zachariou, M., Roberts, M., Lowet, E., De Weerd, P., Hadjipapas, A., 2021. Empirically constrained network models for contrast-dependent modulation of gamma rhythm in V1. Neuroimage 229, 117748. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2021.117748

Tuition Fees:

The tuition fees are €13,500 in total for the first 3 years. For each additional academic year, tuition is €1,500 per year.


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