The ideal candidate would have an Honours degree or higher in Psychology, Neuroscience or a cognate discipline. They would have some experience of the study of the biological basis of behaviour, and if possible would have completed an UG or PG thesis in the area of behavioural neuroscience that would give them some insight into the techniques needed (behavioural analysis, cannulation, opto- and chemeo-genetics) for the advanced study of neurobiological and neurochemical systems involved in the control of behaviour.
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The development of learned behaviours can be dissociated at the level of stimulus-driven reflexive Pavlovian responses versus goal-directed responses that are under voluntary control. Whilst much work has examined this dissociation for appetitively-motivated behaviours, little work to date has examined this in the context of aversively motivated behaviours. This project will use opto- and chemogenetic techniques to examine the role of fronto-striatal and amygdala contributions to the development of instrumental conditioned punishment and avoidance behaviours, contrasted with the development of reflexive Pavlovian conditioned fear responses.