Ziliang Xiong

Ziliang Xiong
The most challenging part so far for me is the unpredictability of research.
Ziliang Xiong
Current role
PhD candidate

I am Ziliang, a Chinese guy and currently in the second year of my PhD in the Department of Sensorimotor Neuroscience at DCC.

What is the topic of your PhD project and how does your work look like in practice?

My PhD attempts to identify what makes us feel ticklish. It is an overdue understudied somatosensation which receives both bottom-up and top-down regulations. To elicit ticklish sensations, my work involves programming a customised “tickle device” and designing experiments with the motivation to use the device to tickle my participants as much as possible. To understand the reactions to ticklish sensations, my work involves analysing behavioural and neuroimaging data, mainly using data-driven and machine-learning approaches.

What aspect of your job is or has been a challenge for you?

The most challenging part so far for me is the unpredictability of research. This happens especially more often for me, as the field and methods related to my project are relatively new. There is little existing literature to help me understand this sensation. Because of this reason, I spent most of my first year in exploratory research, coping with surprises coming out of my experiments.

What does your perfect weekend look like?

I don’t think I can imagine a perfect weekend for myself (I haven’t experienced perfection yet). But for a great weekend, it involves at least some of these elements: good food, ice creams, sitcoms, Nintendo switch, and water-related activities (I love swimming).

What do you wish you would have known when you started your PhD project?

There is only limited time in terms of a common 4-year PhD track – I knew this from the beginning, but living it makes it more real. I wish I would have considered this more carefully when I was planning my first year. Now that I am in the middle of my second year, I still have first-year items on my to-do list…