Developing and testing online naming therapy for post-stroke aphasia.
The University of Cambridge ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership [DTP], in collaboration with Ounce Technology, is pleased to offer a studentship available for admission in October 2021 at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit.
The studentship is a three-year doctoral programme and will be co-supervised by Dr Ajay Halai [MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit] and Prof Matthew Lambon Ralph [MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit].
ESRC DTP students will acquire a unique set of skills that will equip them for high-profile careers as leading social scientists, in academia or in other government, industrial, commercial and third sector organisations, either in the UK or elsewhere.
There are approximately 100,000 stroke incidents per year in the UK and at least 30% will have language deficits in the acute stage (<6 months), while 20% will experience this chronically. The inability to communicate effectively and complete daily tasks has a negative impact on quality of life and mental health, leading to higher dependence on social and assisted care.
To address this, we developed a novel treatment to improve speech in patients with post-stroke aphasia (Conroy et al., 2018). This pilot study showed that the novel therapy: 1) outperformed standard therapy, even after one month follow up, 2) generalised to connected speech and 3) related to underlying brain lesions and neuropsychological profiles as a means of potentially stratifying cases in the future. In partnership with Ounce Technology (OT), we have developed QuickWord – a mobile version of our naming therapy.
The aim of this Studentship is to investigate the efficacy and feasibility of conducting naming therapy remotely on a large-scale stroke population, as well as investigating the behavioural and neural bases of recovery. This will include: 1) conducting neuropsychological assessments, 2) delivering therapy using computerised technology (predominately remotely), 3) develop/refine the QuickWord application with OT, 4) expand the application to include additional therapies and diagnostic tools, 5) examine which neuropsychological and/or lesion features correlate with treatment responsiveness in order to move towards stratified clinical pathways and 6) identify mechanisms behind recovery/therapy gains (on a subset of participants) by measuring neural activity pre- and post-therapy using fMRI.
Critically, this Studentship will combine cutting edge behavioural and neuroimaging research with clinically applied therapeutics boosted by advanced mobile technologies. The convergence of these three disciplines will allow the candidate to build a broad range of transferable skills that will provide exciting opportunities within and outside of academia. The Student will work directly with OT to develop non-academic skills in digital application programming and business management, which will be supplemented with a 3-month internship.
Cambridge ESRC DTP studentships are open to all students who meet the required academic conditions.
An ESRC DTP studentship will cover fees at the Home rate and provide £15,285 p.a. in living costs (current rates). DTP students also receive a personal allowance for additional training costs, and can apply for further funding to pursue fieldwork, academic exchange, and collaboration with non-academic partner organisations.
What to do next
You can find out more about the Cambridge ESRC DTP at: https://www.esrcdtp.group.cam.ac.uk/about/onoffer and read about some of the opportunities that will be available to you.
For more details and to apply, please visit this web address:
The closing date for applications will be 15th January 2021.