Job ID: 103060

PhD position in Regensburg, Germany

Position: Ph.D. Student

Deadline: 10 March 2023

Employment Start Date: 1 May 2023

Contract Length: 3 years

City: Regensburg

Country: Germany

Institution: University of Regensburg

Department: Department of Behavioural and Molecular Neurobiology


Our DFG Research Training Group “Neurobiology of Social & Emotional Dysfunctions” is searching for a PhD student working on the topic “Choosing between competing rewards: modulation by social stressors in rodents”.

What we offer:

We offer a PhD position for at least 3 years (65% according to German pay scale TV-L E13).

Rewards are appetitive, incentive stimuli triggering positive outcomes of motivated behaviour. They can serve as reinforcers, increasing the behaviour occurrence or its strength in the future. Animals integrate different rewarding stimuli from the surrounding environment, including interactions with conspecifics. In this scenario, numerous stimuli may be present simultaneously, and animals must adapt their behavioural responses according to the environmental context, internal states and experiences. This behavioural adaptability is critical for survival. For example, animals are often faced with the challenge of finding food while concurrently avoiding dangerous situations. If a predator’s scent is detected, an animal might choose to hide. However, if it is hungry enough, it may prioritize finding food over staying hidden.

So far, little is known about the behavioural responses during competing drive states and the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie the adaptive prioritization of behaviours.

In this regard, the PhD student will study the impact of social stressors on competing reward-related behaviours (e.g. social vs. food reward) in mice.

At the behavioural level, he/she will combine social fear conditioning and food preference paradigms to study the impact of internal states (i.e., social stressors, hunger) on the choice of competing rewards.

At the molecular level, he/she will investigate the role of the oxytocinergic (OXT) system in regulating the prioritization of behaviours.

Strategies to disentangle the underlying neural circuits controlling the choice of competing rewards will involve using various molecular techniques (e.g., qRT-PCR, western blotting, RNA scope, immunohistochemistry) as well as pharmacological, viral and genetic tools.


What we expect:

  • A Master degree in Neurobiology
  • Strong interest in interdisciplinary research of mammalian socio-emotional behaviour
  • Excellent communication and team-working skills
  • Enthusiasm and great commitment to research