Job ID: 63407

BBSRC CASE PhD studentship: Perineuronal nets in cognition and behaviour

Position: Ph.D. Student

Deadline: 18 January 2022

Employment Start Date: 19 September 2022

Contract Length: 4 years

City: Nottingham

Country: United Kingdom

Institution: University of Nottingham

Department: Psychology


Perineuronal nets (PNNs) are extracellular matrix structures surrounding neurons in the mammalian central nervous system. They have been implicated in cognitive and behavioural functions, and disruption of PNNs has been associated with neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia.

This integrative and behavioural neuroscience project will examine how PNNs in prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, where they mainly surround GABAergic inhibitory interneurons, contribute to cognition and behaviour in rats. First, we will test the idea that PNNs are important for inhibitory GABA function and associated cognitive and behavioural processes (Aim 1). Second, we will examine the link between NMDA receptor hypofunction, a key pathophysiological factor implicated in schizophrenia, integrity of PNNs in prefrontal cortex and hippocampus and cognitive and behavioural function (Aim 2). The project will use brain site-specific manipulations of PNNs (Aim 1) and the subchronic phencyclidine model of NMDA receptor hypofunction (Aim 2) in combination with behavioural tests, in vivo electrophysiology and ex vivo histological methods.

This industry-linked PhD project will be supervised by Tobias Bast and Helen Cassaday (Behavioural Neuroscience group, Psychology, University of Nottingham) and Michael Harte and John Gigg (b-neuro at the University of Manchester). The student will join the Behavioural Neuroscience Group in the School of Psychology at the University of Nottingham and will spend 3-6 months with b-neuro.

The student will benefit from joining the BBSRC Doctoral Training Programme (DTP) community of over 220 postgraduate researchers in the biological sciences, partaking in a broad range of training opportunities.

The studentship will be fully funded for 4 years. The student will receive an annual stipend at the UKRI rate (£15,840 p.a. for 2022) plus a stipend enhancement (£1,000 p.a.) provided by the industry partner.

On the BBSRC DTP webpage, you can find further information about the project and about how to apply.