phd studentship in psychology: assessing learning and memory decline using immersive and non-immersive virtual reality

phd studentship in psychology: assessing learning and memory decline using immersive and non-immersive virtual reality

United Kingdom 19 Jan 2021
University of Bath

University of Bath

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State University
Host Country
19 Jan 2021
Study level
Opportunity type
Opportunity funding
Full funding
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This opportunity is destined for all countries
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All Regions

Funding for: UK and EU Students

Funding amount: £15,285 p.a. in living costs (current rates) and Home tuition fees.

Hours: Full Time

Closes: 19th January 2021

Lead supervisor : Dr Alexandra Voinescu, Department of Psychology, University of Bath, email:

This PhD will ask: Can we understand which forms of memory are most affected in cognitive decline using virtual reality?

Background: Memory decline is present in both healthy and pathological cognitive ageing. Novel technologies such as virtual reality (VR) have the advantage of allowing for a highly ecological and realistic assessment of cognitive processes compared with traditional measures (e.g., paper-and-pencil tests). This project will harness VR-based technology to explore patterns of memory deficits among people at high risk of cognitive decline. VR will be either immersive (e.g. head-mounted displays) or non-immersive (e.g. desktop) as there is a debate in the literature concerning their respective benefits in assessing learning and memory performance among clinical populations. The novelty of this project is that it will use VR to explore various forms of memory including declarative (semantic, episodic) and non-declarative memory (implicit, procedural).

The project and training: You willbe trained to use VR methods. You will develop virtual environments (VEs) which will consist of realistic environments in which people perform daily tasks (e.g., shopping at the supermarket). In these VEs, participants will have to perform a series of tasks known to rely on memory functions (e.g. buy specific items from a shopping list, remember various locations and landmarks across a route). The target population will include young adults and participants with memory difficulties caused by healthy ageing and/or other clinical conditions (e.g. mild cognitive impairment, dementia, brain injury). In the first year, you will perform a systematic literature review and/or meta-analysis to identify if mode of VR delivery (immersive versus non-immersive) results in different memory estimates among healthy people and those at high risk of cognitive decline. The review will help identify gaps in the literature and moderators which affect memory estimates. Several experimental studies will then be designed to explore the role of attention and working memory, incidental and intentional learning in different types of memory, using immersive or non-immersive VR. 

Impact: This project will identify which forms of memory are most affected in cognitive decline to improve current knowledge on assessment and neuropsychological rehabilitation practices.

Requirements: We are looking for someone who has a strong background and experience in neuropsychological assessment and rehabilitation, especially in memory and mild cognitive impairment/dementia/brain injury. Technical and programming skills (e.g., VE programming skills, Matlab, Inquisit, E-prime) would be an advantage. The candidate should have strong academic potential (normally evidenced by a 1st or high 2.1 in a relevant subject, such as Psychology or Computer Science). An MSc degree in a relevant subject at Merit level or above is desirable. 

Interested applicants should contact Alexandra Voinescu by 30th November 2020 enclosing a CV:

The full PhD application, including a research proposal, should be submitted by 19th January 2021. Please note that the successful applicant will be supported by Dr Voinescu in writing a research proposal that will be submitted to the ESRC and internal studentship competitions. 

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