Chromatic analysis of behaviour and neural substrate of pain perception in cuttlefish


This project is part of a 4-year Dual PhD degree programme between the National Tsing Hua University (Taiwan) and the University of Liverpool (England). As part of the NTHU-UoL Dual PhD Award students are in the unique position of being able to gain 2 PhD awards at the end of their degree from two internationally recognised world-leading Universities. As well as benefiting from a rich cultural experience, students can draw on large-scale national facilities of both countries and create a worldwide network of contacts across two continents.

The latest set of projects targeted goal #11 from the UN Sustainable Development Goals: Sustainable Cities and Communities.

Animals must avoid injury and be able to detect potentially damaging stimuli via nociceptive mechanisms in order to survive. Much empirical evidence has been collected for vertebrate groups and invertebrate models have yielded important insights into the underlying mechanisms of nociception and pain (Sneddon et al. 2014). However, we know relatively little about how to assess pain, the extent of the impact pain has on future behaviour and the molecular underpinnings of nociceptive responses in cephalopods, which have the most complex central nervous systems among invertebrates. This proposed project aims to develop a chromatic based monitoring system with embedded artificial intelligence to assess pain in cuttlefish and in doing so fill a much-needed gap in understanding the comparative and evolutionary biology of pain by assessing gene regulation in response to a variety of noxious stimuli. This will allow us to better understand the molecular substrates underlying the transmission of pain in an understudied animal group.


  1. Development of the assessment of pain using Artificial Intelligence and chromatic analysis to ascertain the efficacy of analgesics/anaesthetics on pain perception in cuttlefish.
  2. Profiling the expression of genes responsive to a variety of noxious stimuli in cuttlefish.
  3. Investigating the impact of a noxious, potentially behavioural event on motivational state.

For the Specific aims 1 and 2, the potential PhD student will spend two years in Prof. Spencer’s and Dr. Sneddon’s lab at UoL. For the Specific aim 3, the potential PhD student will spend two years in Prof. Chiao’s lab at NTHU.

Applicants should apply via the University of Liverpool application form, for a PhD in the subject area listed above.


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Funded studentship

This project is a part of a 4-year dual PhD programme between National Tsing Hua University (Taiwan) and the University of Liverpool (England). Students should spend equal time studying in each institution.  Both the UoL and NTHU have agreed to waive the tuition fees for the duration of the project and stipend of $11,000 TWD/£280 GBP a month will be provided as a contribution to living costs. When applying please ensure you Quote the supervisor & project title you wish to apply for and note ‘NTHU-UoL Dual Scholarship’ when asked for details of how plan to finance your studies.