Job ID: 100445

PhD candidate in computational neuroscience

Position: Ph.D. Student

Deadline: 31 January 2023

Employment Start Date: 1 April 2023

Contract Length: 4 years

City: Amsterdam

Country: The Netherlands

Institution: University of Amsterdam

Department: Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience


Vacancy number: 10998. The Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience (CSN) group is looking for a highly qualified and motivated PhD candidate to conduct research activities within the context of an adversarial collaboration to test several theories of consciousness, resulting in a doctoral dissertation.

Current research of the group focuses on neural mechanisms of perception, multisensory integration, interactions between sensory and memory systems, and conscious representation. A theory of consciousness that is central to this application and has been developed in the group is Neurorepresentationalism. CSN research topics are addressed using a variety of methods, such as ensemble recordings in task-performing subjects, optogenetics, advanced analysis of neural data, computational modelling and theoretical analysis.

You will join an international consortium led by the CSN group, that aims to test contrasting hypotheses of the Integrated Information Theory of consciousness, Neurorepresentationalism and Active Inference Theory. The consortium includes experts in the three consciousness theories under investigation (Cyriel Pennartz, Karl Friston, Giulio Tononi), as well as experimentalists and clinicians (amongst others, Umberto Olcese and Rafael Yuste for systems neuroscience).

A key component of this large collaboration is to develop computational models of complex, higher-order representations arising in the context of predictive coding models, multisensory processing and spatial perception. Secondly, the three theories will be compared based on the analysis of experimental data and on theoretical and computational grounds.

 Tasks and responsibilities:

  • Complete and defend a PhD thesis within the official appointment duration of four years;
  • Develop computational models incorporating predictive processing and neural representations across different levels of perceptual and spatial complexity; the nature of the project is thus computational, not experimental;
  • Embark on the comparisons between the three theories, both on experimental and theoretical grounds;
  • Engage in acting as an ‘ambassador’ between the various projects, communicating and interacting with the other international groups involved and closely interact with experimental researchers and other computational neuroscientists in the CSN group and in the wider regional and national computational communities;
  • Help analyze data gathered by the various groups and support processes of data reproducibility and comparability; to use your knowledge of statistics to analyze and evaluate evidence from multiple experiments;
  • Take a leading role in writing manuscripts;
  • Present your results at (inter)national scientific meetings;
  • Participate in the Faculty of Science PhD training programme;
  • Assist in teaching undergraduates and Master’s students;
  • Co-supervise junior scientists (technicians, MSc/BSc students).

What do you have to offer?

You are passionate about science and you have a particular interest in neuroscience. You feel comfortable performing experimental lab work, while simultaneously having an affinity for data analysis. You are problem-solving and have a creative mind. Finally, you are a team player and a nice colleague who enjoys being part of an interdisciplinary team of scientists.

Your experience and profile

  • a Master’s degree in computational neuroscience or related fields, such as systems neuroscience, theoretical neuroscience, biomathematics or biophysics;
  • experience in computer programming, statistics and modelling of biologically plausible or artificial neural networks;
  • significant affinity with systems neuroscience (e.g., ensemble recordings, 2-photon imaging, optogenetics) and neural data analysis;
  • significant affinity with experimental psychology, psychophysics and clinical neuroscience as related to perceptual and cognitive deficits and disorders of consciousness;
  • demonstrable affinity with theoretical and experimental consciousness research, including representational and information-theoretical approaches and brain-mind philosophy;
  • excellent communication and planning skills.

Applications should include the following information (all files besides your cv should be submitted in one single pdf file):

  • a detailed CV including the months (not just years) when referring to your education and work experience;
  • a letter of motivation;
  • the names and email addresses of two references who can provide letters of recommendation.