Supervisor: Kalina Burnat-Kuijpers assistant professor, Nencki Institute, Laboratory of Neuroplasticity, Warsaw
Background: The leading cause of declining vision with age is macular degeneration syndrome (AMD), which affects the central retina. Our recent results suggest that peripheral visual system exhibits immature features, which could make it a favorable source of plasticity throughout life. Central and peripheral vision work together. Central binocular retinal lesions shifts not only perception per se, but also visual attention from the deleted central input to the peripheries.
Aim: We plan to test the hypothesis, that the plasticity of the peripheral visual representation may be useful in reducing the functional loss caused by damage to adult central vision. We propose to examine the outcomes of stimulation of the intact peripheral visual system, by visual training, in the restoration of cortical activity after central retinal lesions in adult animals (AMD model). With the Magnetic Resonance Imaging we shall investigate structure of the white matter connections between visual regions of the brain and with Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy – levels of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters will be monitored at different stages of the recovery after retinal lesions. The work will be performed in close collaboration with Professor Georgios Keliris, Professor Lutgarde Arckens University KU Leuven and with Doctor Michał Fiedorowicz, Mossakowski Medical Research Centre.
The student will analyze imaging and MR spectroscopy data, contribute to planning of MR experiments and data acquisition. The student will learn data acquisition in preclinical MR scanner (Paravision environment), including optimization of MR pulse sequences. He or she will also learn imaging and spectroscopy data processing (eg. LCModel, Tarquin, SPM, custom written Matlab scripts). The PhD studies will begin with traineeship at the University of Antwerp. Scholarship 3000 PLN.
Requirements: 1. holding MA/MSc in Biology, Neuropsychology, Psychophysiology, Mathematics or other related disciplines (obtained no later than 4 years before the announcement); 2. fluency in English both written and spoken; 3. full availability during the whole project (from February 2018 to October 2020). Non-obligatory: MATLAB, programming.
Kalina Burnat, PhD
Laboratory of Neuroplasticity,
Pasteur 3, 02-093 Warsaw, Poland
phone: +48 22 58 92 371