PhD Studentship: The Disconnected Mind Project

PhD studentship: The Disconnected Mind Project – information about eligibility and application

The Disconnected Mind: Studying Individual Differences in the Causes and Consequences of Cognitive Ageing

We invite applications for a three-year PhD studentship as part of a longitudinal study of cognitive and brain ageing. This work will form an integral part of the Disconnected Mind project, directed by Professor Ian Deary, which aims to identify factors that affect how well or poorly people’s cognitive functions and brain structure change as they age. The project is based on the study of healthy older people, mostly from the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 (LBC1936). It includes work on a range of possible contributors to cognitive ageing differences, i.e. demographic, psychosocial, lifestyle, biomedical, genetic, epigenetic, and brain imaging. This is an exciting opportunity to work in a successful multidisciplinary team, and on one of the most comprehensive datasets in the research field. The successful candidate will have a principal and secondary supervisor to support and guide them towards submission of a PhD thesis within three years. Candidates will already have a relevant postgraduate Masters degree (or equivalent), and be proficient in multivariate statistical analyses.

The PhD studentship begins in April 2019 or shortly thereafter. The key focus of the project will be longitudinal analysis of cognitive ageing and/or brain ageing in the participants of LBC1936. Secondary areas of research are not specified, but should be relevant to the general themes of cognitive and/or ageing and based on data available in the LBC1936 study. Applicants are strongly encouraged to review the full range of LBC1936 data available for analysis prior to submitting their application. This can be found in:

Cohort Profile Update: The Lothian Birth Cohorts of 1921 and 1936

Applicants may request additional information by emailing the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 Study Office:

Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 Study Office

Possible areas of study and statistical methods

Proficiency with longitudinal statistical methods (growth curves, mixed models in a structural equation modelling format) will be valuable to fully exploit the 5 waves of collected data. Such methods are appropriate for addressing the key questions of the study: i.e. modelling the potential determinants (e.g. genetic, epigenetic, early life, lifestyle factors) and biomarkers (e.g. brain imaging, carotid, retinal vascular, blood assay) that contribute to cognitive decline across the 8th decade of life and its outcomes (e.g. loneliness, health, wellbeing, dementia diagnosis). The successful applicant will be given guidance from the research team in terms of choosing appropriate topics to study within the project.

The position will also provide training in cognitive testing, and will involve administering these to older people, along with an element of administrative work for the study.


This scholarship is funded by Age UK for a UK student to be based in the Department of Psychology at the University of Edinburgh. It will provide:

  • UK level tuition fees for three years
  • Annual stipend of £15,000 for three years
  • Additional funding for conference and fieldwork travel.


  • The successful applicant will have an undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline (e.g., psychology or a related quantitative biological or social science) and will have a relevant Masters degree (or equivalent).
  • Due to conditions from the funding source this studentship is available for UK students only (*see Footnote).
  • Existing doctoral researchers are not eligible for this award.
  • Experience of multivariate statistical analyses at an appropriate level is necessary.

Application process

Complete the studentship application form and submit with the required supporting to Katie Keltie, Head of Postgraduate Administration by email:

Katie Keltie

A complete application comprises three sets of documents:

  • A completed application form
  • Two references
  • A CV (max 2 pages)
  • Evidence of qualifications and academic transcripts


Before applying, candidates should contact the Lothian Birth Cohorts Study Co-ordinator, indicating the topic(s) of interest; she will discuss this with the Study Director, who will suggest possible supervisors to contact prior to making the application.

Lothian Birth Cohort Study Co-ordinator


Friday 30th November 2018.

Interviews will be held in mid-January 2019. The studentship will begin in April 2019.

Further information

Privacy statement

Information regarding why we are collecting your data and how we will use the data is available in the statement below:


Postgraduate Office

  • School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

Contact details



Room 1.06
Dugald Stewart Building
3 Charles Street

Post Code

*Footnote: EU students and non-EU applicants are not eligible to apply for the funded scholarship; however, they are welcome to apply to undertake a PhD as part of the Disconnected Mind project if they can secure their own funding from other sources. Interested students should apply for the PhD Psychology programme:

PhD Psychology programme