Neural Circuits of Kinship Behaviour

Neural Circuits of Kinship Behaviour

Project Code: 
2023 - SIDB - Clemens
Supervisor: Ann Clemens. Background: The research goals of this PhD project would involve study of the circuits underlying natural social behaviours with a focus on behaviour that is ethologically relevant for the animal. We have a particular interest in kinship behaviour, mate choice, mechanisms of kin recognition, attachment and social learning in developmental time points. Techniques would involve a combination of in vivo and in vitro electrophysiology, imaging as well as circuit mapping and behavioural analyses. Experience in, or willingness to learn quantitative analysis methods for physiology and behaviour is encouraged. Rationale & hypothesis: The PhD project will aim to address the hypothesis that a circuitry of olfactory and downstream brain regions orchestrates kin-selective behaviours and motivated decisions. The outcome of this research will provide an essential basis for understanding how neural circuits mediate social behaviour and how they may be changed with experience. Aims: 1) To address the role of septal-connected circuits in kinship behaviour. 2) To understand the plasticity of circuits involved in kin learning and attachment. 3) To address sensory processes that are key to kinship behaviour. Training outcomes: Students will learn a variety of techniques required to assess neural circuit function in behaviour, will gain a comprehensive knowledge of literature relevant to neuroethology and social behaviour and will gain experience working as a team and independently. By the end of the PhD, the student will achieve independence in designing and implementing experiments to address novel topics in sensory processing and social behaviour. References: The lateral septum mediates kinship behavior in the rat. Clemens AM, Wang H, Brecht M. Nature Communications, 2020.
Additional Project Info 
Simons Initiative for the Developing Brain (SIDB): PhD Studentships 2023. Applications are invited for 3.5-year full-time PhD studentships, fully funded with a generous stipend, in subjects spanning basic and translational brain sciences in the biological mechanisms underlying autism. These studentships represent an exceptional opportunity for well-qualified, motivated individuals to conduct new research in an expert and highly supportive environment. Candidates should select up to three of the PhD projects listed - each application should be submitted on a separate application form. In the application form you should indicate why you are interested in the project(s) and why you would be a good fit for the project(s). Applicants should have a good (2:1 or higher) undergraduate degree in a relevant subject (including, but not necessarily limited to, neuroscience, biomedical sciences, molecular biology, genetics, or computational biology). The successful candidate will be based within the Simons Initiative for the Developing Brain in the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine (CMVM) at the University of Edinburgh. They will join a vibrant, successful, highly collaborative community of researchers across the University of Edinburgh examining the biological mechanisms underlying autism. Simons Initiative for the Developing Brain (SIDB) (www.sidb.org.uk) is a philanthropic Centre funded by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI, www.sfari.org). The over-arching purpose of SIDB is to discover the biological mechanisms underlying autism and to use this information to deliver rational therapeutic interventions. To achieve this, it brings together neuroscientists at the University of Edinburgh studying the brain at the level of molecules, cells, circuitry and behaviour, alongside clinical studies. This approach allows SIDB to address key aims in the study of autism: 1. To determine whether there are critical periods during development when treatments are most effective and, if so, whether critical periods are treatment specific. 2. To determine whether genetic convergence predicts convergence of phenotypic pathophysiology. 3. To prepare deep-phenotyped trial ready cohorts. The range of research themes within SIDB offer a unique opportunity to contribute to world-class research within autism studies. SIDB researchers within these research themes utilize a range of techniques to explore the biological mechanisms underlying autism. Students will have a principal, second supervisor and, depending on the project, a third supervisor to support and guide them towards submission of a PhD thesis within 3.5 years. Eligibility and funding: This is a Simons Initiative for the Developing Brain funded award. It will provide an annual stipend for 3.5 years which will be amended annually in line with annual RCUK stipend percentage changes (currently based on the GDP deflator), plus tuition fees (including international). Applicants should also meet the entry requirements – including English language requirements – for admission to postgraduate programmes at the University of Edinburgh. How to apply and deadline:  SIDB are now recruiting for entry in September 2023. Projects are advertised on the EdNeuro.PhD Platform where you can find full details of all projects.  Candidates should select up to three of the SIDB PhD projects listed but each application should be submitted on a separate application form. In your application, you should indicate why you are interested in, and why you would be a good fit for that project.  Please download the Application Form and, when completed, email it to edneuro.phd@ed.ac.uk  Please ensure your two references are also submitted by the deadline  Deadline: 5 pm, 16th January 2023  Interviews will be held in February 2023 Shortlisted candidates will be asked to make contact with the named supervisor(s) for their chosen project(s) to discuss the project in more detail; in most cases this will take the form of meetings in-person on or near the interview day, but discussions can take place by phone or Zoom/Teams if necessary. The studentships will begin in September 2023. If you have an enquiry about the programme please email SIDB Centre Administrator: Natacia Hambakis Hatch at nhambaki@ed.ac.uk.
Primary Host Research Centre 
Funding Status of this Project 
Deadline for Application 
Monday, 16 January, 2023
Research Area(s) 
Behaviour