PhD Candidate: Computational Neuroimaging of Social Information Processing, Radboud University, Netherlands

Radboud University
Study in:Netherlands
Deadline: 25 January 2018

PhD Candidate: Computational Neuroimaging of Social Information Processing (1.0 FTE)

Faculty of Social Sciences
Vacancy number: 24.01.18
Application deadline: 25 January 2018


Successful social interaction depends on our ability to predict the behaviour of others. These predictions are generated by internal mental models that can reflect knowledge about a specific individual (i.e. individual knowledge) or about the social group that the individual is a member of (i.e. group knowledge). While it is known that relying on group knowledge has great implications for social interactions, little is known about the underlying computational and neural mechanisms. We will combine a recently developed paradigm for studying social decision making with computational modelling and neuroimaging to understand how people predict the actions of others based on individual and group knowledge and the interaction between these sources of information.

First, we will unravel the computational mechanisms of generating predictive models that combine individual knowledge and group knowledge in an optimal way by developing and validating a hierarchical Bayesian computational framework. Secondly, we will identify the neural pathways implementing the model’s computations in the human brain. Finally, we will identify how people update group-level knowledge based on observing different individuals in various environments. All in all, this project will result in an overarching framework explaining how social behaviour is shaped at a mechanistic, neuronal and behavioural level.

Work environment

The Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour focuses on state-of-the-art cognitive neuroscience, using a multidisciplinary approach, and offers excellent lab and neuroimaging facilities, PhD supervision and courses, and technical support. The project will be embedded in the Donders research themes Perception, Action, and Control.

The project will be carried out at the Centre for Cognition of the Donders Institute, which is part of the Faculty of Social Sciences, one of the largest faculties at Radboud University in Nijmegen.

You will be part of Rogier Mars’s Cognitive Neuroecology Lab and Harold Bekkering’s Action and Neurocognition group. Both groups focus on how the human brain supports high-level uniquely human behaviour. In addition, the project will benefit from the support of Jill O’Reilly’s lab at the University of Oxford. You will be part of the Donders Graduate School for Cognitive Neuroscience.

The institute offers excellent research facilities, such as advanced EEG and eye movement registration, lab space, excellent access to fMRI and other neuroimaging facilities and an in-house technical workshop. The Donders Institute is an equal opportunity employer, committed to building a culturally diverse intellectual community, and as such encourages applications from women and minorities.

What we expect from you

  • you have a proven affinity with neuroimaging and mathematical modelling of behaviour;
  • preference will be given to candidates with an MSc in cognitive neuroscience, biomedical science, engineering science, or a related field who are highly motivated to conduct challenging interdisciplinary empirical and model-driven research;
  • due to the international composition of the research group, good collaborative and communication skills are essential;
  • demonstrable experience with techniques for quantitative data analysis (e.g. Matlab, FSL) is highly desirable.

What we have to offer

  • employment: 1.0 FTE;
  • in addition to the salary: an 8% holiday allowance and an 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • the gross starting salary amounts to €2,222 per month and will increase to €2,840 in the fourth year (P scale);
  • you will be appointed 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;
  • you will be classified as a PhD Candidate (Promovendus) in the Dutch university job-ranking system;
  • 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 the partner of the candidate prepare for the local labour market and with finding an occupation.

Are you interested in our excellent employment conditions?

Would you like to know more?

Further information on: Cognitive Neuroecology Lab
Further information on: Theme 2: Perception, Action and Control
Further information on: Action and Neurocognition Group
Further information on: Computational Cognitive Neuroscience Lab
Further information on: Donders Graduate School

For more information about this vacancy, please contact:
Rogier B. Mars

Harold Bekkering

Are you interested?

You should upload your application (attn. of dr. Rogier B. Mars) exclusively using the button ‘Apply’ below. Your application should include (and be limited to) the following attachment(s):

  • Cover letter
  • CV with the names of two persons willing to provide a reference


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