Keywords: sheep, social perception, auditory system, fMRI, animal welfare, neuroscience
Applications are invited for a three-year funded PhD studentship within the Physiologie de la Reproduction et des Comportements (PRC) research laboratory in Nouzilly, near Tours, France. Within the PRC you will join the research team ”NeuroEthologie & Développement des Comportements SocioEmotionnels (NDCS)”, which has 10 permanent members (researchers, engineers and technicians). The NDCS team is interdisciplinary in nature, consisting of neuroscientists focusing on either macro- or microscopic investigation of the animal brain and ethologists investigating animal behaviour. We have a particular, but not exclusive, interest in farm animals. The PhD will be supervised by Scott LOVE and Elodie CHAILLOU – INRAE researchers in the NDCS team. You will also have access to and support from the INRAE experimental farm (UEPAO) and the INRAE MRI facility (CIRE), which are located on the same site as the research lab.
General summary of the project:
As a gregarious species, sheep use olfactory, visual and auditory information during intra and inter species social interactions, which are critical for survival. The neural substrates of sheep olfactory and visual social interaction have been studied by cellular or electrophysiological approaches. Yet, despite the known behavioural importance of vocalisations for sheep social interaction, their auditory system remains scientifically unexplored. This PhD project will use in vivo structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to discover the auditory network of the sheep brain, its functional organisation and its social information processing mechanisms. The fundamental knowledge delivered by this project about the auditory perceptual and cognitive capacities of sheep will also contribute to understanding their welfare needs, determined by both physical and mental factors under current definitions. By establishing cognitive neuroimaging techniques capable of investigating the perceptual and cognitive capacities of livestock, it will also help to release the untapped potential of cognitive neuroscience to infer and investigate the mental lives of animals.
The successful applicant will be involved in the design, implementation, analysis, interpretation and dissemination of both structural and functional MRI experiments with sheep. They will also participate to developing a training program to enable sheep to complete awake, i.e., without anaesthesia, functional MRI experiments. Also, depending on your interests and progress there may be opportunities to conduct behavioural and/or histological experiments with sheep. There will be opportunities to gain experience supervising other students, complete the Formation Expérimentation Animale Niveau Concepteur and to attend both national and international conferences.
A detailed description of the project can be found here: https://osf.io/4au62/
Experience with and/or interests that would help candidates stand out from the rest
Computer programming experience
The deadline for applications is 01/05/2021. The studentship should begin in Oct 2021, although there may be the possibility of some flexibility with regard to start date.
The studentship funding will provide a monthly salary of approximately 1400 euros. Funding for all materials, experiments, formations and conference travel are provided by a recent ANR grant: SheepVoicefMRI (ANR-20-CE20-0001-01). The student will be responsible for paying doctoral school fees of approximately 500 euros per year.
Full applications should contain the following documents:
Don’t hesitate to also send informal inquiries for more information.
Tagged as: Life Sciences
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