PhD Studentship in Psychology

University of Nottingham


Location:  UK Other
Closing Date:  Thursday 30 November 2023
Reference:  SCI227

Supervisors: Dr Silvia Maggi (Psychology, UoN), Prof Mark Humphries (Psychology, UoN) and Hazem Toutounji (Psychology, University of Sheffield)

Subject Area:  Behavioural Biology, Neuroscience, Psychology, Mathematics, Machine Learning, Statistics.

Project Title: Cognitive Flexibility in Dynamic Decision-Making: Unravelling Neurobehavioral Strategies 

Research Description:

A growing need in the field of Behavioural Neuroscience is to enhance the analysis of decision-making behaviour across various species within dynamic environments. Conventional approaches, such as the psychometric curve, assume a stable environment and the use of a fixed strategy to solve a task, often averaging across multiple subjects.

However, it is crucial to characterise individual variations and variability across trials to comprehend how behaviour changes in uncertain and evolving environments. This project will create new, powerful machine-learning approaches to tracking an individual’s decision-making behaviour in an uncertain and changing world. 

Our recent Bayesian inference algorithm (Maggi et al., 2023) enables us to track learning and understand how subjects learn by tracking subjects’ use of exploratory strategies. The project will extend this algorithm to solve the problems of determining which of a set of behavioural strategies a subject is using and how to incorporate evidence uncertainty into its detection of the learning of strategies and transitions between them. Using the extended algorithm on datasets of rodents and humans performing decision tasks will let us test a range of hypotheses for how correct decisions are learnt and what innate strategies are used. 

Start Date: 01/02/2024

Terms and Conditions:  36 months funded

Applicant Qualification Requirements

The successful candidate should have a good honours degree (at least 2:1 or equivalent) in a relevant discipline, including physics, computer science, maths and psychology.  A Master's qualification is not required at the point of application, but a Master's in a relevant discipline would be an advantage. Experience in programming with MATLAB or Python is required, and experience in analysing time series data would be beneficial. The studentship is open to UK citizens; it will offer a stipend of £18,622 for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress.   The successful applicant will also receive £1,000 RTSG per annum to support their research.

How to Apply

All applications are to be made directly to the University, selecting PhD Psychology (36 months duration) as the course. Please apply at:

In the research proposal section please only include “Silvia Maggi’s advertised PhD position” in the title. Please note, the application will not be considered if you fail to do so. 

You are required to upload the following documents to your application:

  1. A CV.
  2. A cover letter.
  3. Two reference.