Our cognitive (neuro)science lab is mostly interested in the mental processes that allow for flexible, goal-directed behavior, and how these processes relate to arguably more simple forms of learning, like (model-free) reinforcement learning and stimulus-response learning. The lab is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) and Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO), and hosted by the Department of Experimental Psychology at Ghent University, Belgium. Where is Ghent?
We are looking for two full-time PhD students at Ghent University on the topics of cognitive control, decision making, and reinforcement learning. Both are four-year positions (provided positive periodic evaluation), preferably starting Oct 2020 or earlier. Salary is according to standard Belgian regulations for PhD students (starting at around €2000 per month net salary). Candidates should have a Master’s degree (or equivalent) in a relevant domain such as Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience, or a closely related discipline.
The positions are part of an ERC Starting Grant project (CoCoFlex) on cognitive flexibility. Cognitive flexibility refers to the ability to quickly reconfigure our mind, and switch between different tasks. The main aim of these two PhD projects will be to develop behavioral paradigms to investigate whether (the processes behind) cognitive flexibility can be conditioned by reward and controlled by the context (i.e., by selectively reinforcing abstract forms of behavior, or manipulating different contextual features in the environment). Using these paradigms, a second step will also be to study the neural dynamics underlying these processes using pupillometry, fMRI, and/or computational modelling.
Candidates are expected to carry out empirical work studying behavior, possibly in combination with fMRI, pupillometry, or computational modeling. Expertise in these methods is not required, but strong interest in cognitive neuroscience, data analysis, and computer programming are. The main supervisor for this project will be Senne Braem, but broader collaborations are also possible and encouraged. We are embedded in the Department of Experimental Psychology at Ghent University, which hosts several research groups on cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience, creating a dynamic research environment including regular internal talk series as well as presentations by invited speakers. The working language is English. We have access to a research-dedicated 3-tesla MR scanner (Siemens Prisma), multiple EEG systems, TMS, and eye-tracking devices.
To apply, please send a CV (including two email addresses of academic referees) and motivation letter (max. 2 pages) to Senne Braem, or let us know if you want any further information about the project or details about the position. Applications from underrepresented groups are highly encouraged. Applications will be considered until May 31st 2020, 2pm CEST.