Elderly lady fallen on stairs with someone helping her get back up

Interoception of breathing and the effects on the cortical control of balance

Eligibility: UK/EU/International graduates with the required entry requirements

Funding details: Bursary plus tuition fees (UK/EU/International)

Duration: Full-time – up to four years fixed term

Application deadline: 27 May 2024

Interview dates: Details will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: September 2024 

For queries please contact Dr. Mathew Hill


Fear of falling is reported by up to 85% of older adults. These fears often excessive, leading to overly cautious behaviour which further increases the likelihood of falling. Interoception (i.e. sensing the internal state of our body) is a core facet in shaping our emotional experiences, with emotions like fear driven, in part, from the conscious monitoring of bodily signals (e.g. increased breathing rate).

Project details

Interoceptive pathways offer ripe opportunities for experimental manipu-lations of mind–body interactions, which can lead to promising interven-tions to reduce high levels of fear about falling. Breathing is profoundly in-fluenced by emotion and is one of the few physiological functions that can be volitionally controlled, potentially providing a powerful portal to entrain and modify high levels of fear. The proposed project brings together differ-ent disciplines (neuroscience, signal processing, physiology, and psychology) to probe the role of interoception (specifically breathing) in the generation of fear of falling. We will use neuroscientific techniques (such as electroen-cephalography [EEG]) to shed light on potential brain mechanisms involved in the interoception of breathing, and elucidate how these factors influence subjective fear and anxiety states.


This is a fully-funded studentship, including tuition fees and stipend/bursary.


The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities.

Entry requirements

  • A minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average.


  • The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a 3.5 years.
  • A minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS academic overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component).

How to apply

To find out more about the project, please contact Dr. Mathew Hill

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, plus a 2000-word supporting statement showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project.

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