Laura Edmondson

Degree: MSc Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience

Now: PhD student at the University of Sheffield

Laura Edmondson 500Laura was drawn to the Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience MSc at Sheffield because it gave her the opportunity to learn about computational modelling methods alongside imaging techniques such as fMRI. Laura is now studying for a PhD with the same Supervisor who oversaw her MSc thesis.

"Computational Neuroscience brings together researchers in neuroscience, engineering and computing to name a few, and it is this interdisciplinary approach that first attracted me to the subject. I chose the MSc in Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at Sheffield due to the diversity of course modules and strong research groups there, such as the adaptive behaviour research group and Neurovascular and Neuroimaging Research Group.

"The course itself has a taught aspect with modules in the first and second semester, followed by an independent research project over the summer. The modules are taught in a mixture of lectures, discussion groups and computer lab classes. The smaller number of fellow students in lectures and labs means there is an opportunity to engage more closely with the lecturers to discuss the course materials. I was drawn to the course at Sheffield due to the variety in module topics. I had the opportunity to learn not only about computational modelling methods, but also imaging techniques such as fMRI and electrophysiology.

"After completing the taught modules, the summer period was dedicated to an extended research project where I could apply everything I had learned. I joined the Active Touch Lab, supervised by Dr Hannes Saal, to model cortical somatotopic representations using self-organisation algorithms. During the project I was able to apply the theoretical knowledge and programming techniques I learned in the modules to create a cortical model of touch processing. Dr Hannes Saal encouraged me to present my MSc work as a poster presentation at two scientific conferences. It was a great experience as I had the opportunity to network with other students and academics in my field.

"I received a departmental teaching fellowship following my MSc and have stayed on at Sheffield to complete my PhD with Dr Hannes Saal, enabling me to continue working on research questions that arose from my MSc thesis.

"I would strongly recommend the MSc to anyone who wants a comprehensive insight into both computational modelling and complimentary cognitive neuroscience techniques, such as neuroimaging."