Emily Stanyer

Pathway 0+3.5

Cohort 2019

Pathway Journey

The neural mechanisms of sleep of migraine

Supervised by: Dr Philip Holland & Dr Jan Hoffmann

Migraine is the 2nd most disabling disorder with over one billion sufferers globally. Attacks are characterized by repeated bouts of intense pain that are associated with sleep-wake cycles. Changes in sleep patterns can trigger attacks and sleep disorders are associated with increased migraine frequency. Conversely, sleep itself is a commonly reported abortive strategy. Migraineurs demonstrate hypersensitivity to light (photophobia) and light is a key regulator of sleep, suggesting a potential shared mechanism. In my PhD I aim to determine whether sleep is altered in migraine patients through clinical studies and explore whether direct disruption to sleep patterns in mice can trigger associated migraine symptoms, and the mechanisms underlying this. Finally, we explore through studies of transgenic mouse lines harbouring mutations in the clock gene DEC2 which cause natural short sleep syndromes in humans, whether this leads to reduced migraine susceptibility.


I graduated with a master’s in psychology with a focus on neuroscience and neuroimaging at the University of York in 2018. After this I worked full time at the University of Leeds as a research technician. This was an industry collaboration with a neurotech company where I worked to create a portable EEG device for measuring and boosting sleep at home. I volunteered for several associations including the Stroke Association, The Alzheimer’s Society, and undertook roles caring for disabled individuals and as a clinical psychologist administrative assistant. This inspired me to undertake research in clinical neuroscience. I chose the MRC DTP as I liked the friendly, cohort feel and the opportunity to go on training workshops. During my time as a DTP student, I have also taken up roles as a graduate teaching assistant on the King’s BSc Psychology programme and as an MRC DTP student rep both of which have been thoroughly rewarding.


Stanyer, E. C., Baniqued, P. D. E., Awais, M., Kouara, L., Davies, A. G., Killan, E. C., & Mushtaq, F. (2021). The impact of acoustic stimulation during sleep on memory and sleep architecture: A meta?analysis. Journal of Sleep Research, e13385.

Stanyer, E. C., Creeney, H., Nesbitt, A. D., Holland, P. R., & Hoffmann, J. (2021). Subjective Sleep Quality and Sleep Architecture in Patients With Migraine: A Meta-analysis. Neurology, 97(16), e1620-e1631.

Baniqued, P. D. E., Stanyer, E. C., Awais, M., Alazmani, A., Jackson, A. E., Mon-Williams, M. A., & Holt, R. J. (2021). Brain computer interface robotics for hand rehabilitation after stroke: a systematic review. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, 18(1), 1-25.


Best Overall Talk at King’s PhD Neuroscience Symposium – June 2022
Best Talk for Wolfson Centre for Age-related Diseases department – June 2022
Inspirational Student Education Award – July 2019


Sleep 2022, Athens (26th – 29th September 2022). Presented a poster: The impact of sleep deprivation on migraine phenotypes

The Migraine Trust International Symposium 2022, London (8th – 10th September 2022). Delivered a talk: Orexin-A recovers sleep-deprivation induced periorbital allodynia in a preclinical migraine model

King’s PhD Neuroscience Symposium 2022, London (June 2022). Delivered a talk: The neural mechanisms of sleep and migraine

Progress in Motor Control, Amsterdam (7th – 10th July 2019). Presented a poster titled: Distinct Processing of Selection and Execution Errors in Neural Signatures of Outcome Monitoring.

Sleep and development scientists network meeting, York (4th June 2019). Presented a poster titled: The impact of acoustic stimulation of sleep on cognitive performance: a systematic review and meta-analysis.