PhD in Psychology: Boosting creativity through sleep engineering

This funding opportunity has expired.

Key facts

Application deadline 17 November 2017
Start date 1 October 2018
Duration 3 years
Level of study Postgraduate research
Award type PhD studentship
Number of studentships 1

We spend one third of our life asleep, and the brain is very busy during this time. The neural oscillations of sleep have known restorative functions, and are also critical for memory consolidation and emotional processing. The NAPS research group studies all of these functions of sleep.

Potential PhD projects include investigations into ways to manipulate sleep (called ‘sleep engineering’) in order to enhance all of these functions. Sleep engineering involves both manipulation of oscillations through auditory and electrical (tACS / tDCS) stimulation and manipulation of memory replay (targeted memory reactivation) in sleep. Watch Professor Penny Lewis' TEDx talk for an easy intro.

In the NAPS lab, we are interested in enhancing sleep to improve health, for instance, by counteracting the impacts of ageing which lead to reductions in deep slow wave sleep. We are also interested in manipulating memory consolidation by triggering the replay of selected memories in different combinations and in different sleep stages. This can lead not only to stronger memory, but to integration of new memories with each other and with existing knowledge, providing a basis for creativity.

Many of our projects would be appropriate for those with a psychology or cognitive neuroscience background, but we also have a couple of projects that would be appropriate for a computer scientist. A candidate with both backgrounds would be great.

An example computer science project involves identification of neural replay during sleep using multivariate pattern classifiers. This is a very exciting area, as we’ve developed the first method for noninvasively identifying these replays in humans, and are now hoping to extend/improve this work.

About the School

The School of Psychology is one of the largest and most successful in the UK .

The School’s excellent standard of research and teaching has been recognised in every Research Assessment Exercise.  It has its own brain-imaging centre, enhancing the international-leading research in behavioural neuroscience, cognitive ergonomics, forensic, social and developmental psychology.

The Neuroscience and Psychology of Sleep (Naps) lab is a thriving community of computer scientists and sleep researchers studying all aspects of how sleep impacts on cognition.

Cardiff University’s Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC) opened in Spring 2016, housing a unique combination of facilities and expertise that will further its world-leading research in neuroimaging, cognitive neuroscience and biological psychiatry.


Professor Penny Lewis

Funding details

Tuition fee support Full UK/EU tuition fees
Maintenance stipend Doctoral stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum
Additional funding offered As well as tuition fees and a maintenance grant, all School of Psychology students receive conference and participant money (approx. £2,250 for the duration of the studentship).They also receive a computer and office space, additional funding for their research and access to courses offered by the University’s Doctoral Academy and become members of the University Doctoral Academy.

Eligibility criteria

Residency UK Research Council eligibility conditions apply
Academic criteria

As only one studentship is available and a very high standard of applications is typically received, the successful applicant is likely to have a very good first degree (a first or upper second class BSc Honours or equivalent) and/or be distinguished by having relevant research experience.


Professor Penny Lewis

Consideration is automatic on applying for a Doctor of Philosophy in Pyschology with a start date of 1 October 2018.

We reserve the right to close applications early should sufficient applications be received.


Professor Penny Lewis

Meet us at our Postgraduate Open Day on 22 November 2017.

Eligible research programmes