Human and Health Sciences: Swansea University Research Excellence Scholarship: The Role of Past and Future Memories in Maintaining Anxiety

Closing date: 22 January 2018

Key Information

Swansea University Research Excellence Scholarships (SURES)

Swansea University is proud to offer 15 fully-funded PhD scholarships for students commencing study in October 2018 or January 2019.

The scholarships will be awarded on the basis of student excellence across a portfolio of 34 potential projects.

Project title: The Role of Past and Future Memories in Maintaining Anxiety

Start date: October 2018

Research questions: What strategies do individuals use to regulate anxiety? To what extent does their failure to successfully regulate anxiety depend on their ability to remember past memories and imagine future events?

Rationale: Anxiety-related symptoms are among the most common mental health issues we are facing today (Charles et al., 2013). In addition to stress, anxiety severity is crucially related to the anticipation of future negative experiences; this is particularly evident when future imaginations are vivid and detailed (MacLeod & Byrne, 1996), because temporally close and vivid future thoughts breed more intense emotions (Van Boven, Kane, McGraw, & Dale, 2009; Ashton, Bennett & Jiga-Boy, in preparation, 2017). Drawing on decades of evidence documenting the intimate correspondence between memory and future imagination (Atance & ONeill, 2001; Schacter, Addis et al., 2012; Schacter, Addis & Buckner, 2007), this project will investigate the role of vividness for past and future events in maintaining or enhancing anxiety symptoms.

Aims: This project aims to identify the mechanisms underlying the overlap between autobiographical memory and future imagination and their causal role in maintaining or enhancing anxiety. The project will establish whether the vividness of memory retrieval and future imagination has a direct influence on the regulation of anxiety at the physiological (emotional reactivity, brain activation), cognitive (appraisal, self-rated moods), or behavioural level (avoidance).

Measures: Emotional reactivity (startle response, skin conductance, heart rate variability); Cognitive Measures (experiential avoidance, vividness, memory retrieval accuracy)

Facilities and methods: Psychology department’s experimental labs.

Supervisors / Academic Contacts: Dr Gabriela Jiga-Boy / Dr Hana Burianova / Dr Lars Marstaller

The successful applicant will have access to our Postgraduate Research Student Training programmes.

Eligibility

Candidates should have (or expect to obtain) a first class honours degree (or equivalent) and/or master's degree with distinction in social and cognitive neuroscience, clinical cognitive science or quantitative research methods (e.g., advanced stats).

Experience with psychophysiological research is required.

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to UK/EU candidates only.

Funding

The scholarship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend of £14,553 for 3 years. 

There will also be £1,000 per annum available for research expenses such as travel, accommodation, field trips and conference attendance.

How to Apply

To apply please complete and return the following documents to Dr Vivienne Jenkins (pgrsures@swansea.ac.uk) quoting reference CHHSCi5:

Student applications will be evaluated against the following criteria:

  • Literary and Academic attainments (60%)
  • Demonstrable esteem indicators i.e. ambassadorial skills, instincts and opportunities to demonstrate leadership, experience and interest in extracurricular and community activities (40%)

Informal enquiries before the deadline are welcome and should be directed to Dr Gabriela M. Jiga-Boy (G.Jiga@Swansea.ac.uk / +44 (0)1792 295082).