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Department of Computer Science

Understanding the 'Wiring' of the Brain

Primary supervisor

Additional information

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Other projects with the same supervisor


  • Self-Funded Students Only

If you have the correct qualifications and access to your own funding, either from your home country or your own finances, your application to work with this supervisor will be considered.

Project description

Current medical scanners (Magnetic Resonance (MR)) can give us far more than simple pictures of different types of brain tissue. By looking in detail at the way that water molecules diffuse, they can give us information on the existence and orientation of white matter fibres, which form in effect the internal 'wiring' of the brain, connecting different areas. Hence this Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) gives us the ability to track actual information pathways within the living brain.

In ordinary MR imaging, the exact size and shape of different brain structures revealed by these images contributes greatly towards understanding the important changes and differences in brain structure associated with various conditions, such as schizophrenia and dementia. Diffusion tensor imaging expands these possibilities, in that rather than just size and shape, it allows us to look at the way that brain regions are connected as well.

The aim of this project is to develop techniques in machine learning and image analysis to enable study of the variation of white-matter tracts across a population. This work will build on existing knowledge of image registration for ordinary MR images, as developed at Manchester ('Computing Accurate Correspondences Across Groups of Images', Cootes et al, 2009 and 'A minimum description length objective function for groupwise non-rigid image registration', Marsland et al., 2008), as well as utilizing the considerable experience with DTI and tractography within the medical school at Manchester.

Person specification

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Applicants will be required to evidence the following skills and qualifications.

  • This project requires mathematical engagement and ability substantially greater than for a typical Computer Science PhD. Give evidence for appropriate competence, as relevant to the project description.
  • You must be capable of performing at a very high level.
  • You must have a self-driven interest in uncovering and solving unknown problems and be able to work hard and creatively without constant supervision.


Applicants will be required to evidence the following skills and qualifications.

  • You will possess determination (which is often more important than qualifications) although you'll need a good amount of both.
  • You will have good time management.


Applicants will be required to address the following.

  • Discuss your final year Undergraduate project work - and if appropriate your MSc project work.
  • How well does your previous study prepare you for undertaking Postgraduate Research?
  • Comment on your transcript/predicted degree marks, outlining both strong and weak points.
  • Why do you believe you are suitable for doing Postgraduate Research?