Skip to content
Red graphic of studentships background.

Investigating neural oscillations in the migraine brain using electrophysiology and behavioural performance

  • School: School of Social Sciences
  • Starting: 2023
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


Project ID: S3 7

Migraine is a common but debilitating neurological condition, however it is poorly understood and commonly misdiagnosed. Migraine has strong links to vision – during attacks individuals report aversion to light, and in between attacks they typically show poorer performance on simple visual tasks. Importantly, visual stimuli have been reported to trigger migraine attacks, so discovering how the visual areas of the brain might be different in migraine is important if we are to develop effective preventative treatments in the future. This PhD is to explore migraine brain function, using a combination of behavioural techniques and electrophysiology to measure brain activity.

What might be different in the migraine brain? It has been suggested that the migraine brain is “noisy” compared to those without migraine. Too much noise in the brain would result in poorer performance on visual tasks, despite increased brain activity. This project will answer an important theoretical question about migraine pathophysiology – do those with migraine have “noisier” brains?

Where might the noise come from? This could be due to waves of brain activity called “neural oscillations”, which control how information is processed in the brain. If these oscillations are disturbed, there is a risk of too much irrelevant information (or noise), and so information will not be passed on effectively. This PhD would focus on two main types of oscillation that are both associated with perception, alpha band oscillations (8-12Hz) and gamma band oscillations (30-100Hz). We will measure this using electroencephalography (EEG). This project investigates if these are different in the migraine brain, as this could explain their differences in perception, and susceptibility to attacks.

Why might these oscillations be different in migraine? Communication in the brain is controlled by a combination of excitatory and inhibitory processes, at the level of brain cells (neurons). It has been suggested that the migraine brain has problems with inhibitory processing at the cell level. Whilst it is not possible to measure inhibitory processes in humans directly, these can be investigated by testing how well people can do tasks that rely on them. We predict people with migraine perform poorly on tasks that rely on inhibitory processes between neurons. If this can be demonstrated, then this will provide a mechanism for the differences in migraine. This mechanism is critical as it can be used to form the theoretical basis for effective preventative therapy for migraine.

Supervisory Team:

Louise O’Hare

Christina Howard

Andrew Clouter

Entry qualifications

  • 1st class / 2:1 undergraduate degree, and / or equivalent
  • Completed masters level qualification and / or evidence of substantive relevant research experience

How to apply

Please visit our how to apply page for a step-by-step guide and make an application and include the project ID in your application

Application deadline: Friday 16th June 2023.

Fees and funding

This is an NTU Studentship funded opportunity.

Guidance and support

Find out about guidance and support for PhD students.

Still need help?

Louise O'Hare