The role of the amygdala in primate social intelligence

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.

As primates, we have a remarkable ability to recognize socio-emotional cues in the environment. The amygdala is subcortical structure in the human brain that is thought to play a critical role in emotion processing but its sensitivity to visual cues is poorly understood. The goal of this project is to measure functional brain activity (fMRI and MEG) in neurotypical participants while they view a wide range of wild type photographs in order to examine the neural geometry of visual representations in the amygdala. These same techniques will then be used to measure brain activity in patients with reduced amygdala function. Ultimately this data will be combined with data already collected from nonhuman primates (fMRI and electrophysiology) to compare the two species and distill the aspects of amygdala function that may be unique to humans. The ideal candidate will be willing to learn multiple neuroscientific techniques (including but not limited to fMRI and MEG) and to collect data from a large number of subjects.

Scholarship value

As a scholarship recipient, you'll receive: 

  • living stipend of $28,854 per annum tax free (2022 rate), indexed annually
  • tuition fees covered
  • single Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)


Dr Jessica Taubert

School of Psychology


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 neuroimaging techniques would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

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

A background or knowledge of data analysis (with matlab, r, or python for example) is highly desirable.

Latest commencement date

If you are the successful candidate, you must commence by Research Quarter 3, 2023. 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