PhD Candidate in Pain, Decision-making and Antisocial Traits Radbound University Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour Netherlands

PhD Candidate: Pain, Decision-making and Antisocial Traits (0.8 - 1.0 FTE)




FSW/Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour

Vacancy number: 24.35.19

Application deadline: 16 June 2019



We invite applications for a fully funded 4-year PhD position in the fields of cognitive neuroscience and psychology. This position is embedded in the Systems Approach to Maladaptive Behaviour and Antisociality (SAMBA) lab (PI: Dr Inti Brazil) at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour.


The overarching aim of our research is to establish the cognitive mechanisms of human adaptive/maladaptive behaviour and their association with antisocial and psychopathic personality traits. The focus of this PhD position will be on investigating the interactions between explore-exploit decision-making, individual variability in sensitivity to pain stimulation, and severity of psychopathic tendencies in healthy populations.


You will investigate the mechanistic basis of decisions to engage in explorative versus exploitative behaviour, using a combination of experimental psychology, psychophysiology, Bayesian clustering approaches, structural equation modelling and computational modelling. There will be a strong focus on combining these tools to study how sensitivity to sensory pain influences explore-exploit decisions, and how these factors relate to psychopathic traits. You will also participate in developing a conceptual framework for understanding antisocial behaviour in both general and forensic populations.


Additionally, you will have the opportunity to supervise MSc and BSc students in their thesis projects, gain experience in lecturing and group tutoring, and will benefit from the extensive training programme offered by the Donders Graduate School.


Work environment

The Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour is a world-class interfaculty research centre that 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 recognised 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.


You will work at the SAMBA lab of the Donders Centre for Cognition. We are a growing research group that emphasises close collaboration and a friendly atmosphere, strongly embedded in a larger multidisciplinary and international research community. We focus on questions relating to the understanding of the mechanisms driving antisocial behaviour in the general population and in incarcerated/forensic populations.


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


What we expect from you

Essential qualities:


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

experience in quantitative analysis;

fluency in English (writing/speaking);

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

excellent interpersonal and communication skills;

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


Non-essential, desirable skills:


computational modelling;

Python, R, MATLAB, Javascript, Presentation;

experience with signal processing;

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;

you will be appointed as a PhD candidate 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;

travel allowance to visit two international conferences during the PhD project;

no tuition fees;

University job profile: PhD Candidate;

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

Intended start date is 1 September 2019.


Would you like to know more?

Further information on: Theme 3: Plasticity and Memory

Further information on: Dr. Inti Brazil's scientific work


For more information about this vacancy, please contact:

Dr. Inti Brazil, Associate Professor

Telephone: +31 24 3611387



Are you interested?

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


Motivation letter

CV including names and contact details of two references

The first round of interviews will take place on Monday 24 June 2019. The second round on Thursday 8 July 2019.

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


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