Interoception and preventative intervention for anxiety in adults with autism
Supervisors: Dr Sarah Garfinkel, Prof Hugo Critchley
Application closing date: Friday 14 July 2017
Project Description: Applications are invited for a 3-year PhD studentship to the Neuroscience (Psychiatry) team at Brighton and Sussex Medical School based at the University of Sussex to work on a collaborative project with Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (Mental Health) to understand the relationship between anxiety and interoceptive experience in adults with autism through the perspective of an interventional study (clinical trial of interoceptive training), autonomic psychophysiology and experimental neuroimaging. We are a leading laboratory in the field of interoception and its contributions to emotional and cognitive symptoms.
The studentship centres around a three year project entitled ‘Aligning Dimensions of Interoceptive Experience (ADIE) to prevent development of anxiety disorders in autism’, funded by the charity MQ Transforming Mental Health. The work builds upon theoretical advances and fresh experimental evidence about the interaction between anxiety and the signalling and perception of bodily arousal. We identified a specific psycho-physiological mechanism for anxiety as a promising treatment target for people with autism spectrum disorders. We will also use state-of-the-art neuroimaging to quantify brain signatures relating to emotional and interoceptive processing and their development over the course of the therapy.
The project offers opportunities to develop experience and skills in patient research, clinical interventions and neuroimaging within a vibrant collaborative environment. This should provide the successful candidate with critical skills and substantial experience to make them a highly competitive candidate for a postdoctoral research position, especially in the field of clinical neuroscience, autonomic psychophysiology and neuroimaging.
Funding Notes: Applicants for this 3 year PhD, jointly funded by Brighton and Sussex Medical School (based at the University of Sussex) and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, should ideally possess a minimum of a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) and a Masters Degree (or equivalent) in Neuroscience or Psychology or a relevant biomedical related subject. Both UK/EU and non-EU citizens can apply (UK/EU fees will be paid). Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr Sarah Garfinkel (email@example.com) or Prof Hugo Critchley (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please apply via the University of Brighton's website.
Garfinkel SN, Tiley C, O'Keeffe S, Harrison NA, Seth AK, Critchley HD. Discrepancies between dimensions of interoception in autism: Implications for emotion and anxiety. Biol Psychol. 2016 114:117-26.
Garfinkel SN, Critchley HD Threat and the Body: How the Heart Supports Fear Processing. Trends Cogn Sci. 2016 20:34-46.
Application deadline: Friday 14 July 2017
On application, please enter the following text in the ‘Research Proposal’ field: Supervisor defined project, followed by the project title.