[Comp-neuro] [PhD] An integrated experimental and modeling approach to gaze orientation and learning

Laurent Perrinet laurent.perrinet at univ-amu.fr
Fri Jun 20 17:51:30 CEST 2014

An opening is available for a PhD project focusing on an integrated experimental and modeling approach to gaze orientation and learning. Please note that candidates should apply before July 15th, 2014.


Call for candidates for one PhD fellowship
at the Institut de Neurosciences de la Timone
CNRS & Aix-Marseille University (AMU)

Gaze orientation and learning:
an integrated experimental and modeling approach

PhD supervisors: Anna Montagnini and Laurent Perrinet
(InViBe team)

How do we maintain the accuracy of our movements despite changes occurring in our environment or within the organism? Our research project is to shed a new light on this question within a unified theoretical framework centred on reinforcement learning. We will study visually driven, voluntary eye movements as a model for motor learning. Indeed, these provide an ideal experimental preparation to probe sensorimotor decisions across different time-scales, processing levels (from sensory encoding to the final categorical choice) and movement repertoire (e.g. smooth pursuit vs saccades). In addition, a remarkable flexibility of simple oculomotor behaviors has been highlighted, by manipulating the expectancy for sensory features or the outcome associated to particular motor responses. Behavioral experiments on human eye movements will be designed, implemented and used to benchmark new theoretical models based on the probabilistic framework. The main focus will be on the modulation of oculomotor behavior (latency and metric properties, such as amplitude or speed) that is observed in a changing environment, especially in relation to a dynamic reinforcement schedule.
The proposed PhD is part of a project (Reinforcement and Eye Movements – REM, see http://invibe.net/LaurentPerrinet/TagAnrRem) funded by the French National Research Agency ANR, and it will be conducted in close collaborations with researchers at INT in Marseille (A. Montagnini, L. Perrinet and F. Danion) and at the University of Lille (L. Madelain and J. Jozefowiez). The Institut de Neurosciences de la Timone (see http://www.int.univ-amu.fr/?lang=en), brings together a large, young and dynamic community of scientists interested in frontline aspects of the integrative neurosciences. The net salary will be around 1430 euros per month.
Applicants should have a keen interest in cognitive science and hold a Master or equivalent degree in a relevant field (computational or cognitive neuroscience, computer science, psychology, engineering, physics, or mathematics). The selection process will strongly favor candidates with excellent programming skills and/or experience with eye tracking and visual psychophysics. Knowledge of French is not mandatory, although willing to learn it will facilitate enjoying life in Marseille and its beautiful surroundings.
Applications are now being accepted and until July 15th, 2014. Interested candidates should send a CV, brief summary of research accomplishments and interest, and the contact information for two to three referees familiar with the candidates’ backgrounds. Position needs to be filled by September, 1st, 2014. Please, send applications (in a single PDF file) to
Anna.montagnini at univ-amu.fr and Laurent.perrinet at univ-amu.fr.

Relevant publications

Bogadhi A, Montagnini A, Perrinet LU, Mamassian P & Masson GS (2011) Pursuing motion illusions: a realistic oculomotor framework for Bayesian inference. Vision Research 51, 867-880
Khoei MA, Masson GS, Perrinet LU (2013). Motion-based prediction explains the role of tracking in motion extrapolation. Journal of Physiology-Paris, 107(5):409—420
Bogadhi A, Montagnini A & Masson GS (2013) Dynamical interaction between retinal and extra-retinal signals in motion integration for smooth pursuit. Journal of Vision 13(13) : 1-25
Servant M, Montagnini A & Burle B (2014) Conflict tasks and the diffusion framework: Insight in model constraints based on psychological laws Cognitive Psychology, 72(2014):162-195
Simoncini C, Perrinet LU, Montagnini A, Pascal Mamassian, Guillaume S. Masson (2012). More is not always better: dissociation between perception and action explained by adaptive gain control. Nature Neuroscience 15(11):1596-603
Sanz-Leon P, Vanzetta I, Masson GS, Perrinet LU (2012) Motion Clouds: Model-based stimulus synthesis of natural-like random textures for the study of motion perception. Journal of Neurophysiology, 107(11):3217--3226,
Montagnini A., Mamassian P., Perrinet L., Castet E. and Masson G. (2007). Bayesian modeling of dynamic motion integration. Journal of Physiology-Paris, Vol 101(1-3):64-77
Perrinet LU, Adams R, Friston K (2014) Active Inference, eye movements and oculomotor delays. Submitted.
Adams RA, Perrinet LU, Friston K (2012) Smooth Pursuit and Visual Occlusion: Active Inference and Oculomotor Control in Schizophrenia. PLoS ONE, 7(10):e47502
Spering M, and Montagnini A (2011) Do we track what we see? Common versus independent processing for motion perception and smooth pursuit eye movements: A review. Vision Research 51: 836–852
Montagnini A and Chelazzi L (2005) The urgency to look: Prompt saccades for the benefit of perception. Vision Research, 45 (27): p. 3391-3401.
Madelain, L., Herman, J. P., & Harwood, M. R. (2013) Saccade adaptation goes for the goal. Journal of Vision, 13(4).
Madelain, L., Paeye, C., & Wallman, J. (2011) Modification of saccadic gain by reinforcement. Journal Neurophysiology, 106(1), 219-232.

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