FSE 2: Inner speech in post-stroke aphasia

Faculty: Faculty of Science and Engineering

Supervisors: Dr Sharon Geva; Prof Peter Bright; Dr Eldré Beukes 

Location: Cambridge

The interview for this project is expected to take place on Wednesday 26 April.

This position offers an exciting opportunity to join a team studying the neuroscience of inner speech, directed by Dr Sharon Geva.

Inner speech refers to the everyday experience of speaking silently in one’s head. You'll be using state-of-the-art neuroimaging and behavioural techniques to study inner speech in both neurotypical adults and stroke patients with speech and language difficulties (aphasia).

You'll assess how and when inner speech is used, and how it is related to other language abilities, cognitive functions, and imagery.

Through work with stroke survivors and stroke clinicians (e.g., neuropsychologists, speech and language therapists, neurologists) you'll also assess how inner speech measurements can contribute to aphasia diagnosis, prognosis, and planning of rehabilitation programmes.

The project will include:

  • Developing tools for measuring inner speech, and testing neurotypical adults
  • Adapting the tests for administration to stroke patients with aphasia, through focus groups
  • Testing patients with aphasia (this may require travelling within the local area)
  • Analysing structural and functional MRI data
  • Liaising with clinical teams and stroke charities
  • Communicating the project findings through scientific papers and conferences, and through public engagement activities

Key objectives

This research project will (i) fill in gaps in knowledge on inner speech in post-stroke aphasia, enhancing our understanding of both aphasia and neurotypical language processing; (ii) incorporate measurements of inner speech into clinical practice, to improve diagnosis of aphasia; and (iii) define the neural correlates of inner speech production using structural and functional MRI.

Experience and skills

We invite applicants with a background in neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, computer sciences, speech and language sciences, or other related disciplines. Knowledge of statistical methods is essential. Experience in neuroimaging (e.g. MRI) is preferable, although training will be provided.

The project requires working with stroke patients with aphasia, their families/carers, and stroke clinicians, through liaison with clinical teams and stroke-related charities. You should therefore demonstrate enthusiasm for public engagement work and ability to travel within the local area.

You'll benefit from the expertise of our colleagues in the University of Oxford, University College London (UCL), and University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, and will have the opportunity to develop skills in MRI analysis, neuropsychological testing, and working with clinical populations.

About the team and the school

The supervisory team for this project includes Dr Sharon Geva, Professor Peter Bright and Dr Eldré Beukes.

Dr Geva is an experienced researcher with leading publications on inner speech processing and aphasia. She has previously supervised projects on aphasia and language processing, involving various neuroimaging techniques.

Prof Bright is a highly established neuropsychologist with a publication record spanning more than 25 years.

Dr Beukes has a strong research background in improving outcomes for individuals with disabilities, for which she has won four national prizes. She has more than 75 peer-reviewed manuscripts and authored two textbooks.

As a PhD student, you will join a dynamic community of postgraduate students, based in the School of Psychology and Sport Science, situated in the heart of Cambridge.

Our school is equipped with specialist labs housing state-of-the-art equipment for monitoring emotional and physiological responses, including eyetracker, driving simulator, Oculus Rift VR headset, EEG, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and other technologies. You will be part of the ARU Centre for Mind and Behaviour.

If you would like to discuss this research project please contact Dr Sharon Geva: sharon.geva@aru.ac.uk

Apply online by 19 March 2023

Funding notes

This successful applicant for this project will receive a Vice Chancellor’s PhD Scholarship which covers Home tuition fees and provides a UKRI equivalent minimum annual stipend for three years. For 2022/3 this was £17,688 per year. The award is subject to the successful candidate meeting the scholarship terms and conditions. Please note that the University asserts the right to claim any intellectual property generated by research it funds.

Download the full terms and conditions.