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Binocular rivalry mechanisms in the healthy and bipolar brain

Binocular rivalry refers to the perceptual alternation that occurs every few seconds when conflicting visual stimuli are presented, one to each eye. Despite being studied for more than a century, including intensive investigation in the last few decades, the neural mechanisms of binocular rivalry remain to be determined. The phenomenon has also attracted interest in clinical contexts due to repeated demonstrations that perceptual switch rate is slower in subjects with bipolar disorder than in healthy controls. This project will explore neural mechanisms of binocular rivalry using noninvasive brain stimulation with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in both healthy and bipolar subjects. For an Honours or BMedSci project, the focus will be on healthy subjects. For a Masters or PhD project, both healthy and bipolar subjects will be examined. For all degree types, experience will also be gained in eye movement recording and analysis. For a PhD project, additional investigative technique experience can be obtained depending on the interests of the student (e.g. electroencephalography, neuroimaging). The project may also explore other perceptual rivalry types using TMS. The interested student will also gain knowledge on the role of binocular rivalry in the scientific study of consciousness. The aims of the project are to: (i) better characterise a known modulation effect of TMS on binocular rivalry in healthy subjects, with a view to understanding underlying neural mechanisms, and (ii) characterise this TMS modulation effect in subjects with bipolar disorder, with a view to better understanding the slowed perceptual switch in this patient group.
Essential criteria: 
Minimum entry requirements can be found here:
Binocular rivalry, perceptual rivalry, brain stimulation, transcranial magnetic stimulation, bipolar disorder, depression, consciousness, perception, neural mechanisms, eye movements, psychiatry, neuroscience, neurophysiology
Biomedicine Discovery Institute (School of Biomedical Sciences)
Available options 
Masters by research
Time commitment 
Top-up scholarship funding available 
Physical location 
Biomedicine Discovery Institute
Phillip Law

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