Monday 12 June 2017

PhD scholarship available at Loughborough University

Loughborough University

PhD Studentship - Industry co-funded PhD Studentship: “Multisensory modelling of wetness perception during baby hygiene absorbent products interactions”

Loughborough University

Application details:Reference number: LDS/DFPG/2017
Start date: October 2017
Interview date: Shortly after deadline
Primary supervisor: Dr Davide Filingeri
We are seeking excellent candidates with interests in human physiology/sensory neuroscience applied to product engineering who want to study at a top 20 UK research-led University whilst collaborating with a market-leader industry partner (Procter & Gamble).
The PhD candidate will benefit from a four-year studentship that includes an enhanced EPSRC tax-free annual stipend of £18,553 per annum and UK/EU tuition fees and a Research Training Support Grant worth £1,750. The candidate will also spend 3 months at the Procter & Gamble Innovation Centre in Germany, where they will contribute to fast-tracking translation of academic research into industrial impact.
Project Detail:This project is co-sponsored by Procter & Gamble and it is based on Dr Filingeri’ s recent discovery of the neural mechanisms underlying skin wetness perception.
The perception of wetness is the most critical determinant of comfort of hygiene absorbent products, amongst which baby nappies; yet we know very little on what sensory cues (i.e. visual, thermal, tactile, smell, sound) contribute to wetness perception during absorbent products interactions. Baby nappies are unique products as their comfort and acceptability is assessed by the baby’s caregiver rather than by the wearer. This poses a major challenge to understanding what aspects of the product and of the interaction between carer and baby can be improved, to reduce wetness perceptions and maximize carer and wearer’s comfort.
The proposed research will investigate wetness perception during baby hygiene absorbent products interactions, using a combination of physiological and psychophysical measurements in human subjects. The knowledge produced will provide novel insights on the neural mechanisms of multisensory integration in humans and will support innovation in user-centred-design and engineering of more comfortable hygiene absorbent products for babies and adults.
Entry requirements:Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering degree such as (but not limited to) human physiology/biology, exercise science, psychology, ergonomics, biomedical engineering, product/industrial design. A relevant Master’s degree and/or experience in one or more of the following will be an advantage: sensory/cognitive neuroscience, human factors/ergonomics, research experience with human participants.
Funding information:This project is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as part of the Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) awarded to Loughborough University.
Benefits of this DTP-studentship include:
  • An enhanced tax-free stipend of £18,553 per annum (17/18 academic year) for 4 years.
  • Tuition fees at the UK/EU rate, for 4 years.
  • A Research Training Support Grant worth at least £1,750 to assist with training over the course of the studentship.
  • Admission to the University as part of a cohort of EPSRC-DTP funded PhD students
Due to funding restrictions, this is only available to those who are eligible to pay UK/EU fees. In order to qualify for a full award, all applicants must meet the EPSRC eligibility criteria including the minimum UK residency requirement
Contact details:Dr Davide Filingeri,, +44 1509 228169
How to apply:All applications should be made online at Under programme name, select Loughborough Design School  
Please quote reference number: LDS/DFPG/2017

Monday 24 April 2017

Handling the heat - MS and temperature sensitivity

I recently discussed temperature sensitivity and our research in Multiple Sclerosis with the MS Society UK. Here is the article from the MS Society website ():

Handling the heat - latest 


Over 60% of people with MS say they experience heat sensitivity. We caught up with heat sensitivity scientist Dr Davide Filingeri to find out how he’s tackling this invisible symptom.

What is heat sensitivity?

Many people with MS find that their symptoms get worse in the heat. This can be triggered by hot baths, the sun, or exercise.
The effects of heat are temporary, but heat sensitivity can be extremely unpleasant. It can have a massive impact on day-to-day activities like working, exercising, or even taking a walk on a warm sunny day.

Why does it happen?

Changes in temperature can affect the way our nerves function and make it more difficult for them to send messages.
This is even more true when the myelin coating around nerves is damaged, as it can be in MS. That’s because as well protecting nerves from damage, myelin also shields nerves from changes in temperature.
We still don’t fully understand why nerves without myelin are less able to cope with increases in temperature. But researchers have found that raising body temperature by as little half a degree Celsius can aggravate MS symptoms.

What‘s the latest in heat sensitivity research?

Researchers in the US are investigating how our bodies regulate temperature and if this can affect heat sensitivity in MS.
There’s some evidence to suggest that people with MS can’t regulate body temperature as well as those who don’t have MS. This may mean their core body temperature increases more quickly, triggering heat sensitivity.
A team in Australia is also developing new ways to keep cool during exercise. This would help prevent people with MS getting heat-related fatigue.
I’ve been really lucky to work with both of these groups. Together we’re aiming to understand more about the biology of heat sensitivity. We’ll then use this knowledge to develop more effective solutions for it.

What are you working on?

I’m particularly interested in how heat sensitivity is triggered in MS.
We typically find that a high internal (core) body temperature can affect the way nerves work. But a lot of people with MS find that just being in the sun can worsen symptoms like fatigue.
This could mean that an increase in skin temperature is enough to trigger symptoms. My team is working to understand how changes in skin and core body temperature can affect MS symptoms like altered sensations and problems with memory, thinking and movement.
We also want to understand why exposure to cold can worsen MS symptoms.

Do you have any tips for dealing with heat sensitivity?

Research has highlighted the benefits of ‘pre-cooling’, which basically means cooling down before exercise to help combat temperature rises. This could mean having a cool bath or a cold drink before exercising or going out when it’s hot.
There are also cooling vests that you can wear during exercise or in the summer. Some people find them uncomfortable, but they might be worth a try if you’re particularly sensitive to heat.
Thanks Davide!

Read more:

Thursday 16 February 2017

Human temperature regulation and thermal sensitivity - Video interview with the Journal of Neurophysiology

Have a look at my recent video interview with the Editor in Chief of Journal of Neurophysiology. 

Discussing thermoregulation, thermal sensitivity and our recent paper with collaborators at UC Berkeley - now on YouTube


Tuesday 14 February 2017

Thermoregulation and Thermal Sensitivity in Humans

I had the great opportunity to be interviewed by Journal of Neurophysiology Editor-in-Chief Bill Yates (University of Pittsburgh) and to talk about my research into understanding how the human body interacts with our surrounding thermal environments, both physiologically (e.g. body temperature regulation) and perceptually (e.g. perception of temperature, wetness, touch and pain), and on how neurological diseases (e.g. Multiple Sclerosis) alter these physiological functions. 

In this podcast I also discuss our recently published paper on sensory thermo-neutrality (Davide Filingeri, Hui Zhang, Edward A. Arens. (2017) Characteristics of the local cutaneous sensory thermo-neutral zoneJournal of Neurophysiology, published online February 1, 2017. DOI: 10.1152/jn.00845.2016)

Thursday 26 January 2017

Skin wetness perception and neuroprosthetics

We know that sensing skin wetness is critical in the context of human behavioral and autonomic thermoregulation. However, sensing skin wetness has important implications for object manipulation and manual function. In this recent Journal of Neurophysiology review we explore the biology of wetness sensing, its role in manual function, and the potential for its replication in upper limb neuroprosthetics. 
Enjoy the read!

The biology of skin wetness perception and its implications in manual function and for reproducing complex somatosensory signals in neuroprosthetics

Davide FilingeriRochelle Ackerley


Our perception of skin wetness is generated readily, yet humans have no known receptor (hygroreceptor) to signal this directly. It is easy to imagine the sensation of water running over our hands, or the feel of rain on our skin. The synthetic sensation of wetness is thought to be produced from a combination of specific skin thermal and tactile inputs, registered through thermoreceptors and mechanoreceptors, respectively. The present review explores how thermal and tactile afference from the periphery can generate the percept of wetness centrally. We propose that the main signals include information about skin cooling, signaled primarily by thinly-myelinated thermoreceptors, and rapid changes in touch, through fast-conducting, myelinated mechanoreceptors. Potential central sites for integration of these signals, and thus the perception of skin wetness, include the primary and secondary somatosensory cortices and the insula cortex. The interactions underlying these processes can also be modeled to aid in understanding and engineering the mechanisms. Further, we discuss the role that sensing wetness could play in precision grip and the dexterous manipulation of objects. We expand on these lines of inquiry to the application of the knowledge in designing and creating skin sensory feedback in prosthetics. The addition of real-time, complex sensory signals would mark a significant advance in the use and incorporation of prosthetic body parts for amputees in everyday life.
In the figure: Schematic of peripheral afferent inputs that may contribute to wetness perception.
The left side of the figure shows that thermoreceptive and mechanoreceptive afferents contribute to detecting and perceiving skin wetness. The right side of the figure shows how these signals may be recovered and used in a neuroprosthetic device, signaling both efferent motor commands and complex sensory feedback. The central areas that may generate the perception of wetness include those activated by tactile and thermal inputs (shown), as well as being subject to multisensory influences (e.g. vision) and cognitive processes (e.g. attention, learning).

Tuesday 10 January 2017

The thermal brain: investigating individual variability in thermoregulatory behaviour in humans

Applications are invited for an exciting PhD program for candidates who are sponsored or have their own funding. 

The project will be based at the Environmental Ergonomics Research Centre, Loughborough University and will be performed under the supervision of Dr Davide Filingeri. 

Feel free to get in touch to discuss sponsorship as well as avenues to secure funding to support this PhD (email:

Project Description

The thermal brain: investigating individual variability in thermoregulatory behaviour in humans

In an attempt to reduce building energy consumption and its impact on climate change, the built environment is focusing more on the design and implementation of personalised comfort systems (systems directly cooling/heating the body of the occupant). However, to be effective, personalized indoor climate standards and applications should accurately represent the thermal demands of all occupants. 

Unfortunately, due to limited research on individual differences in thermoregulatory behaviour and thermal preference of healthy and clinical populations (e.g. individuals with neurological diseases that impair thermal sensitivity), we are still far from reaching “comfort for all”. 

The aim of this PhD will be to investigate individual variability in thermoregulatory behaviour, thermal sensitivity and thermal preference and to characterize its properties based on gender, age, body composition, and presence of neurological conditions. Successful applicants will be using a combination of physiological and psychophysical methods in human-based thermoregulatory research, and will be based at the Environmental Ergonomics Research Centre, which comprises 3 state-of-art climatic chambers. 

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF2014) and an outstanding 66% of the work of Loughborough’s academic staff who were eligible to be submitted to the REF was judged as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, compared to a national average figure of 43%. 

In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Graduate School, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career. 

Find out more: 

Entry requirements

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 degree (or equivalent) in Human Biology, Neuroscience, Psychology, Ergonomics or Exercise Science.  A relevant Master’s degree and/or experience in one or more of the following will be an advantage: Human & Applied Physiology, Sensory Neuroscience, Human Factors and Ergonomics, research experience with clinical or non-clinical human participants. 

All applications should be made online at  Under programme name, select ‘Loughborough Design School’ 

Please quote reference number:  LDS/DF/2017

Funding Notes

This is an open call for candidates who are sponsored or who have their own funding.

Wednesday 21 December 2016

New personal website

Hi there,

Quick communication to bring to your attention the launch of my new personal website:  

where you will find out more about me, my research and its impact.

The purpose of the webiste is to create a one-stop, first-contact point for everyone interested in research collaborations and enterprise. It includes a News and Contact section.

Feel free to a look around!