PhD Candidate in Decision-Making / Computational Psychiatry
Radboud University, Faculty of Social Sciences

PhD Candidate in Decision-Making / Computational Psychiatry (0.8 - 1.0 FTE)


Faculty of Social Sciences 
Vacancy number: 24.15.19 
Application deadline: 1 May 2019


We invite applications for a fully funded 4-year PhD student in the field of cognitive/affective neuroscience. This position is embedded in the Learning & Decision lab (PI: Hanneke den Ouden) at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, as part of the Vidi project “Getting things done: Unravelling the neurocognitive mechanisms of adaptive decision-making”. 

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 in both healthy and psychiatric populations how disparate decision systems may act both synergistically and competitively, depending on environmental demands. 

You will investigate the neurobiological basis of decision-making, using a combination of psychopharmacology, experimental psychology, neuroimaging and computational modeling. There will be a strong focus on the role of dopamine and/or serotonin and fronto-striatal circuitry. You will have the following tools at your disposal: fMRI, psychopharmacology and 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 Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour is a world-class interfaculty research centre, and houses more than 600 researchers devoted to understanding the mechanistic underpinnings of the human mind. Research in the Donders Institute is focused around four themes: (1) Language and communication; (2) Perception, action and control; (3) Plasticity and memory; and (4) Brain networks and neuronal communication. Excellent, state-of-the-art research facilities are available for the broad range of neuroscience research that is conducted at the Donders Institute: 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. Recently, the Donders Institute was 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. The lingua franca of the Institute is English. 

You will work within the learning and decision-making lab at the Donders Centre for Cognition. We are a small and growing research group that emphasises close collaboration and a friendly atmosphere, strongly embedded within a larger decision-making and cognitive control research community. We are occupied with questions relating to if/how specific abnormalities in fundamental cognitive processes (e.g. reinforcement learning, flexible updating, motivational and cognitive control) produce disorders of brain health. In addition to fundamental work in this area, we are also interested in how these insights can be used to refine our definitions of psychiatric disorders and dimensions. Methods available to researchers in the lab include psychopharmacology, EEG, MRI, eye-tracking and large-scale internet-based cognitive testing, with a strong focus on computational modeling of brain and behaviour.


What we expect from you

Essential qualities: 

  • a Master’s degree in Psychology, Neurosciences, Computer Science or a related field;

  • experience in quantitative analysis;

  • fluent English (writing/speaking);

  • the capacity to work in an interdisciplinary and translational research environment;

  • good interpersonal and communication skills;

  • proactive and goal-directed attitude, good organizational skills, and the ability to get things done.

Non-essential, desirable skills: 

  • computational modeling

  • Python, R, MATLAB, Javascript

  • fMRI or EEG/MEG analysis

  • psychopharmacology

  • working with patient populations

  • experimental design

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

What we have to offer

  • employment: 0.8 - 1.0 FTE;

  • the gross starting salary amounts to €2,325 per month, and will increase to €2,972 in the fourth year (p scale);

  • in addition to the salary: an 8% holiday allowance and an 8.3% end-of-year bonus;

  • duration of the contract: you will be appointed 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;

  • UFO job profile: PhD Candidate;

  • Radboud University offers a parental leave scheme to all employees, including PhD students;

  • you will be able to make use of our Dual Career Service where our Dual Career Officer will assist with family related support, such as child care, and help your partner prepare for the local labour market and with finding an occupation.

Are you interested in our excellent employment conditions?


Other Information

You will be part of the Donders Graduate School for Cognitive Neuroscience.


Would you like to know more?

Further information on: Theme 2: Perception, Action and Control 
Further information on: denOuden Lab 
Further information on: Donders Graduate School


For more information about this vacancy, please contact: 
Dr. Hanneke den Ouden
Telephone: +3124 361 11 77


Are you interested?

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

  • Motivation letter stating why you are interested in the position

  • CV, including grades of relevant courses and contact details from at least two references

Transcripts and a writing sample will be requested when invited for the second round.

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Psychoneuroxy


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