[Comp-neuro] PhD studentship: fMRI and modelling of learning and decision making

Kay H. Brodersen kay.brodersen at gmx.net
Thu Jan 15 17:31:18 CET 2009

Open Positions at the Laboratory for Social and Neural Systems Research, University of Zurich

Directors: E. Fehr, T. Singer, K.E. Stephan

The Laboratory for Social and Neural Systems Research is a newly founded research centre at the University of Zurich that investigates the principles underlying social and neuronal systems.  Funded through a generous donation by the Branco Weiss Foundation, this laboratory is being established as a highly interdisciplinary institution with a novel research concept.  Bringing together scientists from the social and natural sciences (incl. neuroscience, economics, psychology, and physics), it studies the mechanistic links between neuronal circuits and human social behaviour, using a combination of brain imaging methods, neuropharmacological techniques, behavioural experiments and computational approaches.  A single custom-built unit hosts multiple state-of-the-art facilities that are fully dedicated to research.  These facilities include a Philips Achieva 3T MRI scanner, as well as laboratories for EEG, transcranial magnetic stimulation, psychophysics, behavioural group studies, peripheral & autonomic neurophysiology and pharmacology.  Additionally, we have access to a 7T high-field human MRI facility.

PhD studentship:  fMRI and modelling of neuromodulatory mechanisms during learning and decision-making

The Computational Neuroeconomics group led by Prof. Klaas Enno Stephan invites applications from prospective PhD students.  The research in our group focuses on (i) experimental and computational investigations of brain connectivity, synaptic plasticity and neuromodulatory mechanisms during learning and decision-making and (ii) translating the results into clinical applications.  To this end, we perform fMRI and EEG/MEG experiments and collaborate closely with theorists, physiologists and clinicians.  Our group is highly interdisciplinary and international in composition, with English being the working language.

We offer a PhD studentship that is funded for 3 years with an annual salary according to the Swiss PhD salary scheme (increasing from CHF 38,000 in year 1 to CHF 44,000 in year 3).  This project, which is conducted in collaboration with researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at London, concerns neuromodulatory mechanisms during learning and decision-making and contains both experimental and modeling aspects.  The experimental work includes establishing novel learning and decision-making paradigms and obtaining fMRI measurements of healthy volunteers under pharmacological manipulation.  The behavioral and fMRI data will be analysed using a combination of dynamic causal modelling (DCM) and computational models.  The balance of experimental and theoretical components of this project can be adjusted depending on the skills and interests of the successful applicant.

We seek talented and highly motivated candidates who have a strong interest in combining experimental and modelling approaches and who are looking for a vibrant, highly interdisciplinary and well equipped research environment with strong international collaborations.  Good programming skills are essential.  Previous experience with fMRI data acquisition and analysis, MATLAB and SPM are not required, but advantageous.  Experience with Bayesian statistics, machine learning techniques or dynamic systems theory would be an extra bonus.

This position is available from January 2009, and applications will be accepted until the position is filled.  Please send an electronic application with your CV (incl. publication list), a cover letter stating your motivation and research interests, and contact details of two referees to Prof. Klaas Enno Stephan (k.stephan at iew.uzh.ch).  For further information, you can also consult the following web sites:


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