Job ID: 85612

PhD Student in Systems Neuroscience – Consciousness Research

Position: Ph.D. Student

Deadline: 21 August 2022

Employment Start Date: 1 September 2022

Contract Length: 4 years

City: Amsterdam

Country: Netherlands

Institution: University of Amsterdam

Department: Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences



For a collaborative project between the labs of Umberto Olcese (Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience Group (CSN), Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences) and Timo Stein (Brain and Cognition Group, Psychology Research Institute), at the University of Amsterdam, we are looking for a highly qualified and motivated candidate to conduct research activities within the context of a project to test key hypotheses of several theories of consciousness in both animal and human models.

Current research in the CSN group focuses on neural mechanisms of perception, multisensory integration, interactions between sensory and memory systems, and conscious representation.

These topics are addressed using a variety of methods, such as ensemble recordings in task-performing subjects, optogenetics, computational modelling and advanced analysis of neural data.

The Brain and Cognition Group focuses on cognitive research aimed at unravelling the mechanisms of perception, action and consciousness. A variety of techniques is used (EEG, fMRI, psychophysics), and attention is paid to develop a better understanding of clinically-relevant findings.

As a PhD candidate, you will work at the interface between these two research groups. We expect that you, at the end of the PhD, will have provided a major contribution to the study of consciousness in the field of systems neuroscience, but with a crucial translational component.

What do you have to offer

You are passionate about neuroscience and interested in unravelling the mystery of consciousness in a scientifically solid way. You like a challenge and are excited about performing experiments and analyzing the collected data. You have a strong background in quantitative methods and in neurophysiology. You enjoy working in a diverse setting, as you will be working in a collaborative project on two different locations. Finally, you are a team player and a nice colleague with good communication skills as you will regularly join and present at consortium meetings as well as at relevant (inter)national meetings.

Your experience and profile

  • a Master’s degree, preferably in systems neuroscience or related field; candidates with a quantitative background (e.g. biomedical engineering, physics) and proven experience in systems neurosciences are also welcome;
  • significant experience in in vivo electrophysiology (silicon probes or similar technology) and optogenetics;
  • significant experience in animal training and behavior;
  • experience in computer programming and neural data analysis;
  • preferably: possession of a FELASA B (article 9) license for animal experiments;
  • preferably: experience in human psychophysics and EEG recordings;
  • interest in and affinity for the scientific study of consciousness;
  • excellent analytical, writing and presenting skills;
  • fluency in English, both written and spoken (knowledge of Dutch or willingness to learn is a pre)

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 4 years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years).. This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and master students.

The preferred starting date is to be discussed

What are you going to do

You are expected to perform a challenging experiment integrating multi-area electrophysiology (with Neuropixels probes) and optogenetics in mice trained to perform a visual discrimination task. You will also be tasked with analyzing the behavioral and electrophysiogical data that you collect. You will have access to state-of-the-art facilities for performing experiments, behavioral training and data analysis.

Furthermore, you will be involved in psychophysics and EEG experiments in humans. Human experiments will be primarily performed by a research assistant, and as a PhD candidate your focus will be on analyzing the collected data. An animal facility, facilities for performing human EEG experiments, biotechnical and ICT support are available.

Next to these experimental activities, you will participate in educational activities performed at the Faculty of Science, and will also be enrolled in the Graduate School Neurosciences Amsterdam Rotterdam.

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