PhD in decision making/computational psychiatry

Faculty of Social Sciences
Vacancy number: 24.19.17
Application deadline: 1 June 2017


We invite applications for a PhD student in the field of cognitive/affective neuroscience. This four-year position is embedded in the Decision Making laboratory (PI: Hanneke den Ouden) at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour in Nijmegen (the Netherlands).

The overarching aim of our research is to establish the computational and neuropharmacological mechanisms of human (mal)adaptive decision making. The focus of this PhD position will be to investigate how disparate decision systems may act both synergistically and competitively, depending on environmental demands, in both healthy and psychiatric populations.

You will investigate the neurobiological basis of decision making using a combination of psychopharmacology, experimental psychology, neuroimaging and computational modelling. There will be a strong focus on the role of dopamine and/or serotonin and frontostriatal circuitry. You will have the following tools at your disposal: fMRI, psychopharmacology, large-scale web-based behavioural testing, potentially combined with EEG/MEG and patient research. You will also participate in conceptually developing the framework for understanding the neurochemistry of the adaptive mind.

Additionally, you will have the opportunity to supervise MSc and BSc students in their honours thesis projects, and will benefit from the extensive training programme of the Donders Graduate School.

Work environment

The mission of the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour is to conduct cutting-edge fundamental research in cognitive neuroscience. This internationally renowned institute currently hosts more than 500 researchers from more than twenty countries, distributed across three centres. Institute-wide regular discussion meetings and lectures promote the integration and collaboration of research conducted within the molecular, cellular, systems, cognitive, and clinical neurosciences. You will work within the learning and decision-making group at the Donders Centre for Cognition.

The Institute is equipped with three 3T MRI systems, MR-compatible systems for recording EEG and peripheral psychophysiological measures, a 275-channel MEG system, an EEG-TMS laboratory, and high-performance computational facilities. The Ernst Hahn Institute in Essen (Germany), a partner of the Donders Institute, provides access to a 7T system. All facilities are fully research-dedicated laboratories with excellent technical support. The Donders Institute also[HdO1] provides a unique and stimulating learning environment for young researchers, including a high-profile graduate school and in-house methodological expert courses. English is the lingua franca at the institute.

What we expect from you

  • a Master’s degree in cognitive neuroscience or a related field (psychological, biological, biomedical, or computer sciences);
  • a strong interest in fundamental research in the cognitive and affective neurosciences and/or its application in psychopathology, with a focus on adaptive decision making;
  • a strong affinity with quantitative analysis approaches and programming, for example the use of Matlab, Python, R;
  • familiarity with neuroimaging techniques (fMRI, EEG-MEG), psychopharmacological and/or patient research;
  • the ability to participate in an interdisciplinary and translational research environment;
  • interpersonal and communication skills to effectively collaborate and communicate in an academic setting;
  • a proactive and goal-oriented attitude, good organisational skills, and the ability to complete a PhD thesis within four years;
  • fluency in written and spoken English.

Excellent candidates who only partially meet this profile are nonetheless strongly encouraged to apply.

What we have to offer

  • employment: 0.8 – 1.0 FTE;
  • in addition to the salary: an 8% holiday allowance and an 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • the starting salary is €2,191 per month on a full-time basis; the salary will increase to €2,801 per month in the fourth year (P-scale);
  • you will be appointed as a PhD student for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (i.e. a total of 4 years);
  • as part of the contract, you will participate in teaching for approximately 10% of your work time;;
  • you will be classified as a PhD student (promovendus) in the Dutch university job-ranking system (UFO).

Are you interested in our excellent employment conditions?

Would you like to know more?

Further information on: Learning & Decision Making group
Further information on: Donders institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
Further information on: Donders Graduate School

For more information about this vacancy, please contact:
Dr. Hanneke den Ouden
Telephone: +31 24 3611177

Are you interested?

You should upload your application (attn. of Dr. Hanneke den Ouden) exclusively using the button ‘Apply’ below. Your application should include (and be limited to) the following attachment(s):

  • Letter of motivation
  • CV (incl. grades)
PhD in computational psychiatry @ Radboud University Netherlands

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