Mechanisms regulating striatal dopamine under stress

Project opportunity

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

The decision to engage in effortful behaviour to attain rewards is essential for success in life and critical for survival. Yet, we understand very little about the brain processes that promote persistence and enable individuals to ‘keep going’. The decision to give up is mediated by suppression of dopamine release in the ventral striatum, a neurochemical signal that drives motivated behaviour. However, the neural circuit and cell-specific mechanisms that control striatal dopamine under stress and when high levels of effort are required are poorly understood. This project aims to investigate the cellular mechanisms regulating dopamine signalling in the ventral striatum under stress, and how this impacts the ‘decision’ to persist in exerting effort to obtain a reward. The project will use state-of-the-art cellular, systems, behavioural and computational neuroscience approaches incorporating temporally precise dopamine measurements, single neuron optical recordings, optical manipulations of neural activity and computational modelling.  The overarching aim is to quantify the cell-specific mechanisms through which stress impairs striatal dopamine synthesis, release and reuptake, to regulate motivated behaviour. This work will generate new knowledge on the neural mechanisms through which stress modifies neural activity to control decision-making processes underpinning adaptive stress-coping behaviours essential for survival.

Scholarship value

As a scholarship recipient, you'll receive: 

  • living stipend of $32,192 per annum tax free (2023 rate), indexed annually
  • tuition fees covered
  • single Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)


Dr Susannah Tye

Queensland Brain Institute


Preferred educational background

Your application will be assessed on a competitive basis.

We take into account your

  • previous academic record
  • publication record
  • honours and awards
  • employment history.

A working knowledge of cellular and synaptic mechanisms regulating dopamine signalling would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of neuroscience and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of cellular and molecular neuroscience methods and dopamine system neurobiology is highly desirable.

Latest commencement date

If you are the successful candidate, you must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2024. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date.

If you are an international applicant, you may need to apply much earlier for visa requirements.

How to apply

You apply for this project as part of your PhD program application.

View application process