PhD Candidate: Computational Cognitive Neuroscience at the Predictive Brain Lab

Employment
1.0 FTE
Gross monthly salary
€ 2,770 - € 3,539
Required background
Research University Degree
Organizational unit
Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging
Application deadline

The last decade has witnessed a paradigm shift in how we view perception and cognition. Brains are increasingly thought of as prediction machines. Come and join us as a PhD candidate to work on this exciting hypothesis. In this research project, you will capitalise on recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) for providing a richer and more computationally explicit test of predictive processing in perception.

Recent advances in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning have put artificial neural networks firmly on the map as a promising approach to both model and understand biological brains. This PhD project aims to harness the recent progress in AI to build computationally explicit models (Artificial Neural Networks, ANNs) that embody the principles of predictive processing. The ultimate goal is to better understand the neural mechanisms underlying our remarkable perceptual abilities by comparing artificial and biological networks in terms of neural and behavioural representations during naturalistic conditions.

As a PhD candidate, you will use a computational approach to model and predict neural responses within the human visual system as well as behavioural performance, and test the neural and behavioural implications of different predictive neural architectures. The experimental and computational work will be conducted at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour at Radboud University (Nijmegen, Netherlands). You will join a team of computational and cognitive neuroscientists with complementary expertise, headed by Prof Floris de Lange. You will be an active team member of the Predictive Brain Lab, an internationally renowned, diverse and stimulating research group examining how the brain combines prior knowledge and incoming information to generate perception and cognition. You will not have a teaching task.

Profile

  • You have an MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience, Artificial Intelligence, or a related field.
  • You have an affinity with programming and possess demonstrable experience using techniques for quantitative data analysis (e.g. in Matlab or Python).
  • You are highly motivated to conduct interdisciplinary empirical research at the intersection of AI/Machine Learning and Cognitive Neuroscience.
  • You have good collaborative and communication skills.

We are

The Predictive Brain Lab is based at the Donders Institute of Radboud University (Nijmegen, Netherlands) and headed by Prof. Floris de Lange. Its research mission is to find out how the brain makes sense of the world, using prior knowledge to form predictions about incoming signals. We strive to understand this process at the computational, algorithmic and implementational levels. Therefore, we use a multidisciplinary approach, focusing on behavioural and neural mechanisms of prediction, and utilising a combination of psychophysics, non-invasive human neuroimaging (fMRI, EEG/MEG), and computational and neural network modelling approaches. We represent many different nationalities and we come from diverse (personal and scientific) backgrounds. We promote a supportive and stimulating work environment, where we enjoy carrying out excellent scientific research.

The Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour is a world-class interfaculty research centre that houses more than 700 researchers devoted to understanding the mechanistic underpinnings of the human mind. Excellent, state-of-the-art research facilities are available for the broad range of cognitive neuroscience. The Donders Institute fosters a collaborative, multidisciplinary, supportive research environment with a diverse international staff. English is the lingua franca at the Institute.

Radboud University

At Radboud University, we aim to make an impact through our work. We achieve this by conducting groundbreaking research, providing high-quality education, offering excellent support, and fostering collaborations within and outside the university. In doing so, we contribute indispensably to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. To accomplish this, we need even more colleagues who, based on their expertise, are willing to search for answers. We advocate for an inclusive community and welcome employees with diverse backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives. Will you also contribute to making the world a little better? You have a part to play.

If you want to learn more about working at Radboud University, follow our Instagram account and read stories from our colleagues.

Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
The Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour is a world-class interfaculty research centre that houses more than 700 researchers devoted to understanding the mechanistic underpinnings of the human mind. Research at the Donders Institute is focused around four themes: 1. Language and communication, 2. Perception, action and control, 3. Plasticity and memory, 4. Neural computation and neurotechnology. Excellent, state-of-the-art research facilities are available for the broad range of neuroscience research that is being conducted at the Donders Institute. The Donders Institute has been assessed by an international evaluation committee as excellent and recognized as a ‘very stimulating environment for top researchers, as well as for young talent’. The Donders Institute fosters a collaborative, multidisciplinary, supportive research environment with a diverse international staff. English is the lingua franca at the Institute.

The mission of the Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (DCCN) is to conduct cutting-edge fundamental research in cognitive neuroscience. Much of the rapid progress in this field is being driven by the development of complex neuroimaging techniques for measuring activity in the human brain - an area in which the Centre plays a leading role. The research themes cover central cognitive functions, such as perception, action, control, emotion, decision-making, attention, memory, language, learning and plasticity. The Centre also aims to establish how the different brain areas coordinate their activity with very high temporal precision to enable human and animal cognition. Our internationally renowned centre currently hosts more than 100 PhD candidates and postdoctoral researchers from more than 25 countries, offering a stimulating and multidisciplinary research environment. The centre is equipped with four MRI scanners (7T, 3x 3T), a 275-channel MEG system, an EEG-TMS laboratory, several (MR-compatible) EEG systems, and high-performance computational facilities.

We offer

  • We will give you a temporary employment contract (1.0 FTE) of 1,5 years, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, your contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4-year contract).     
  • You will receive a starting salary of €2,770 gross per month based on a 38-hour working week, which will increase to €3,539 in the fourth year (salary scale P).
  • You will receive an 8% holiday allowance and an 8,3% end-of-year bonus. 
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Support Service. The Dual Career Programme assists your partner via support, tools, and resources to improve their chances of independently finding employment in the Netherlands. Our Family Support Service helps you and your partner feel welcome and at home by providing customised assistance in navigating local facilities, schools, and amenities. Also take a look at our support for international staff page to discover all our services for international employees.
  • You will receive extra days off. With full-time employment, you can choose between 30 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the statutory 20. 

Additional employment conditions

Work and science require good employment practices. Radboud University's primary and secondary employment conditions reflect this. You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself. For example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports membership. And, of course, we offer a good pension plan. We also give you plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.

Practical information and applying

Address your letter of application to prof. Floris de Lange In the application form, you will find which documents you need to include with your application.

The first interviews will take place on 1 July. Any second interview will take place on 8 July. You will preferably start your employment on 1 September 2024.

We can imagine you're curious about our application procedure. It describes what you can expect during the application procedure and how we handle your personal data and internal and external candidates. 

Apply now Application deadline

We would like to recruit our new colleague ourselves. Acquisition in response to this vacancy will not be appreciated.

Would you like more information?

Prof. F.P. de Lange (Floris)

024 361 06 58

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