[visionlist] New 3 year Post-doc in visual neuroscience at University of Liverpool

alexis david james makin alexis.makin at liverpool.ac.uk
Sun Jun 16 13:16:49 -04 2019

We have an opening for a post-doctoral research associate (36 month) on a new ESRC-funded project. This work will investigate the neural basis of visual symmetry perception (https://www.bertamini.org/lab/ <https://www.bertamini.org/lab/>). The plan is to hold interviews in mid-September 2019, and the start date is mid-October 2019. The link for applications will be announced soon. For preliminary expressions of interest and further questions contact Dr Alexis Makin: alexis.makin at liverpool.ac.uk <mailto:alexis.makin at liverpool.ac.uk>.
This project has four work packages. The successful candidate will be responsible for overseeing WP1 and 4 at Liverpool, alongside the PI (Alexis Makin) and COI’s (Bertamini, Rampone and Jones). They will also take part in collaborative work with York (Morland) and Westminster (Silvanto). 
As a post-doc you will:
Assist with all stages of the research process (experimental design, programming, EEG testing and data analysis, publication of top-quality research papers).
Develop a comprehensive understanding of the relevant literature.
Coordinate scientific activity between all members of the team.
Present the results at national and international conferences.
To be successful in this role you will have:
A doctorate in psychology, neuroscience or a closely related area (or very near to completion).
An excellent record of peer reviewed publications (considering career stage).
Independent skills with advanced quantitative data analysis and programming (e.g. in Python, Matlab and R).
Expertise in data collection and analysis using EEG or other neuroimaging techniques.
A strong background understanding of psychology, cognitive science, visual neuroscience or related fields.
Project summary: When does perceptual organization happen?
The visual brain organises and interprets information from the retinal image. It must work out what features belong to the same object, how surfaces are arranged in depth, which surface features are caused by illumination and which by pigmentation. Our project will test when and how the visual brain performs some of these functions.
Visual symmetry is the ideal stimulus to study this problem. It is known that symmetry activates range in a range of extra striate visual areas (Keefe et al., 2018; Sasaki et al., 2005). Symmetrical patterns generate an Event Related Potential (ERP) called the Sustained Posterior Negativity (SPN, Makin et al., 2012, Makin et al., 2016). The SPN can be used as a biomarker of perceptual organisation (see Bertamini & Makin 2014 or Bertamini et al. 2018 for reviews). Work package 1 (Liverpool) will test the conditions for SPN generation. For instance, the SPN might be reduced when participants are attending to colour or sound. WP2 and 3 will investigate these topics with fMRI (York) and TMS (Westminster). Finally, WP4 (also at Liverpool) will investigate how perceptual organisation is altered by mild intoxication, and in currently sober heavy drinkers.
 Our research team: Makin, Bertamini and Rampone (Liverpool) are experts in symmetry perception, EEG recording and analysis. Morland (York) has extensive experience using fMRI to map the visual cortex. Silvanto (Westminster) is a TMS expert. Jones (Liverpool) is a leading alcohol/EEG researcher. We aim to recruit a candidate who can enhance this diverse research team.
References to relevant papers
Bertamini, M. & Makin. A.D.J. (2014). Brain activity in response to visual symmetry. Symmetry, 6, 975-996.

Bertamini, M., Silvanto, J., Norcia, A. M., Makin, A. D. J., & Wagemans, J. (2018). The neural basis of visual symmetry and its role in mid- and high-level visual processing. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1426, 111–126.

Keefe, B. D., Gouws, A. D., Sheldon, A. A., Vernon, R. J., Lawrence, S. J., McKeefry, D. J., … Morland, A. B. (2018). Emergence of symmetry selectivity in the visual areas of the human brain: fMRI responses to symmetry presented in both frontoparallel and slanted planes. Human Brain Mapping, 39(10), 3813–3826.

Makin, A. D. J., Wright, D., Rampone, G., Palumbo, L., Guest, M., Sheehan, R., … Bertamini, M. (2016). An electrophysiological index of perceptual goodness. Cerebral Cortex, 26, 4416-4434.

Makin, A.D.J., Wilton, M.M., Pecchinenda, A. & Bertamini, M. (2012). Symmetry perception and affective responses. A combined EEG/EMG study. Neuropsychologia, 50, 3250–3261.

Sasaki, Y., Vanduffel, W., Knutsen, T., Tyler, C. W., & Tootell, R. (2005). Symmetry activates extrastriate visual cortex in human and nonhuman primates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 102(8), 3159.

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