[Comp-neuro] Vacancy: Three Positions in the Dutch Research Consortium "Language in Interaction".

Verhoef, J.P. (Julia) J.Verhoef at donders.ru.nl
Mon Dec 12 12:47:40 CET 2016

Three Positions in the Dutch Research Consortium 'Language in Interaction' (1,0 fte)
[Logo NWO][Logo]Dutch Research Consortium 'Language in Interaction'
Vacancy number: 30.10.16
Application deadline: Jan 29, 2017, 23:59 CET

We are looking for highly motivated candidates to enrich a unique consortium of researchers that aims to unravel the neurocognitive mechanisms of language at multiple levels. The goal is to understand both the universality and the variability of the human language faculty from genes to behaviour.
Currently, our consortium advertises 1 Postdoc and 2 Research Assistant positions. These positions provide the opportunity for conducting world-class research as a member of an interdisciplinary team. Each position has its own requirements and profile.

Click here for more information on the advertised positions<https://www.languageininteraction.nl/bqpositions.html>.

Work environment
The Netherlands has an outstanding track record in the language sciences. The research consortium 'Language in Interaction', sponsored by a large grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific research (NWO), brings together many of the excellent research groups in the Netherlands with a research programme on the foundations of language.
In addition to excellence in the domain of language and related relevant fields of cognition, our consortium provides state-of-the-art research facilities and a research team with ample experience in the complex research methods that will be invoked to address the scientific questions at the highest level of methodological sophistication. These include methods from genetics, neuroimaging, computational modelling, and patient-related research. This consortium realizes both quality and critical mass for studying human language at a scale not easily found anywhere else.

We have identified five Big Questions (BQ) that are central to our understanding of the human language faculty. These questions are interrelated at multiple levels. Teams of researchers will collaborate to collectively address these key questions of our field.

Our five Big Questions are:
BQ1: The nature of the mental lexicon: How to bridge neurobiology and psycholinguistic theory by computational modelling?
BQ2: What are the characteristics and consequences of internal brain organization for language?
BQ3: Creating a shared cognitive space:  How is language grounded in and shaped by communicative settings of interacting people?
BQ4: Variability in language processing and in language learning: Why does the ability to learn language change with age? How can we characterise and map individual language skills in relation to the population distribution?
BQ5: How are other cognitive systems shaped by the presence of a language system in humans?

Successful candidates will be appointed at one of the consortium's home institutions, depending on the position applied for. All successful candidates will become members of our Big Question teams. The research is conducted in an international setting at all participating institutions. English is the lingua franca.
What we expect from you
Each position has its own requirements and profile.
Detailed information on: www.languageininteraction.nl/bqpositions.html<http://www.languageininteraction.nl/bqpositions.html>

General requirements for all positions are:
·                     a degree in one of the fields indicated for the positions;
·                     strong motivation;
·                     excellent proficiency in written and spoken English.

What we have to offer
·                     employment: 1,0 fte;
·                     you will be appointed at one of the consortium's home institutions, depending on the           position applied for;
·                     Terms of employment depend on the embedding institution.
·                     Dutch universities and the institute involved have a number of regulations in place that enable
employees to create a good work-life balance.

Other Information
The institute involved is an equal opportunity employer, committed to building a culturally diverse intellectual community, and as such encourages applications from women and minorities.

Would you like to know more?
Further information on: the Language in Interaction Consortium<https://www.languageininteraction.nl/>.

Further information on: the different positions<http://www.languageininteraction.nl/bqpositions.html>, including terms of employment and contacts

Are you interested?
You should upload your application (attn. of Prof. dr. P. Hagoort) using the button 'Apply'. Your application should include (and be limited to) the following attachments:

·                     a cover letter quoting at the top the number (BQ1N or BQ4RA) of the position you apply for,
·                     your curriculum vitae, including a list of publications and the names of at least two persons who can provide references.

Please apply before Jan 29, 2017, 23:59 CET.

For more information on your application: +31 24 3611173.

Big Question 1

Scientific summary
The big question this project addresses is how to use computational modeling to link levels of description, from neurons to cognition and behavior, in understanding the language system. We focus on the mental lexicon and aim to characterize its structure in a way that is precise and meaningful in neurobiological and (psycho)linguistic terms. Our overarching goal is to devise causal/explanatory models of the mental lexicon that can explain neural and behavioral data. This will significantly deepen our understanding of the mental lexicon, lexical access, and lexical acquisition.

Postdoc Position - BQ1N
Neurobiologically realistic models of the mental lexicon

Content description
You will participate in a team effort to understand the computational neurobiology underlying language by means of recurrent networks of spiking neurons (RNN) for sentence processing.  The goal is to develop an RNN model of the long-term storage and retrieval of lexical items and their associated structural and semantic properties (Mental Lexicon), encoded into high-dimensional feature vectors.  Core objectives are to understand the nature of these lexical representations, how they are linked to relevant retrieval cues, and how this system is acquired based on local, unsupervised, neurobiological plasticity principles (e.g., spike-timing dependent plasticity, homeostatic plasticity, synaptic consolidation).
This memory network will interface with a network for online sentence comprehension (Unification) that is currently being developed in the Neurobiology of Language Department (MPI).  In this combined architecture it will be investigated to what extent structured word representations delivered by the mental lexicon are suitable for incremental, combinatorial processing and what-conversely-the influence of sentence context is on lexical retrieval.  Model building will be supplemented by the development of analytic techniques to measure memory capacity and dynamic stability, and methods to discover hidden representational structure in neuronal assemblies.

You should have

·      A PhD degree (or equivalent) on the computational modeling of language processing/acquisition with a background in mathematics, physics, computer science, or other relevant fields of study.

·      A strong background in psycholinguistics as well as computational neuroscience is required.  This includes detailed knowledge of neuronal dynamics, synaptic plasticity, and neurobiological principles for learning.

·      Expertise on mathematical models of neural networks, dynamical systems, and the analysis of neuronal activity is highly valued.

·      Extensive experience in scientific computing, including numerical methods, large-scale simulations, and data-science approaches.  Programming experience especially in languages such as Matlab and Python is required, knowledge of simulation tools like NEST is desirable.

·      Experience with concepts and methods for statistical analysis, and with state-of-the-art techniques for data visualization.

·      An active interest in brain physiology, memory research, and computability theory.

·      Affinity with cognitive neuroscience, machine learning, and fundamental issues in theoretical linguistics is desirable.

·      Experience with designing and supervising PhD projects and have a proven ability to work in an interdisciplinary team, with strong communication skills in an international work environment.

·      The ability to work independently, organize and lead group meetings, compose research reports regularly, and present results to a wide scientific audience.

·      Fluency in English, spoken and written, is a must. Knowledge of Dutch is desirable but not mandatory.

Embedding and Terms of employment
This position will be held at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen.

  *   Employment: 1,0 fte;

·         Starting salary will be based on Tarifvertrag im Öffentlichen Dienst E13 Stufe 1 (TVöD Bund). Final scaling dependant on experience;

·         In addition to the salary: an 8% holiday allowance

·         The Max Planck Institute involved has a number of regulations that make it possible for employees to create a good work-life balance.

Contact information
Dr. Karl Magnus Petersson (Karl-Magnus.Petersson at mpi.nl<mailto:Karl-Magnus.Petersson at mpi.nl>) and Prof. Peter Hagoort (Peter.Hagoort at mpi.nl<mailto:Peter.Hagoort at mpi.nl>)

Big Question 4

Scientific summary
We aim to characterize variation in language processing and learning skills and to determine how these variations relate to variations in the underlying biology of individual participants. The project has two strands: Strand A focuses on language processing skills in young adults, and Strand B on language learning skills in children and adults.
Strand A will develop a comprehensive battery of language tasks targeting sound, meaning, and grammatical processing of words and longer utterances during speaking and listening. In addition, tasks will be selected or developed assessing general cognitive skills that are likely to affect performance in language tasks. Strand B uses variability in learning ability to investigate why second-language (L2) acquisition can become harder in adulthood.

Two Research Assistant Positions - BQ4RA

Content Description
You will work primarily  in Strand A of the project. You will be involved in the development of the tests items (e.g., generation of stimuli, adaptation of English tests for use in Dutch, preparing the presentation of the items in existing software packages), data analysis and archiving. Your main duties will, however, be to schedule and test participants in the lab in Nijmegen and in schools in various locations in the Netherlands.

You should minimally have a BA degree (or equivalent) in Psychology,  (Special) Education , or another relevant field of study. You must have native or near native knowledge of Dutch and good knowledge of English.  Good IT skills would  be highly valued. Most importantly, you should have good communicative and organizational skills and feel comfortable interacting with young persons, individually and in groups. Some experience in teaching, therapy, or tutoring would be useful.

Applications from excellent candidates with a less than ideal profile will be equally considered.

These positions will be held at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen.

  *   Employment: 1,0 fte;
  *   Starting salary will be based on Tarifvertrag im Öffentlichen Dienst  E9b Stufe 1 (TVöD Bund);

·         In addition to the salary: an 8% holiday allowance;

·         The Max Planck Institute involved has a number of regulations that make it possible for employees to create a good work-life balance.

Contact information
Prof. Antje S. Meyer (antje.meyer at mpi.nl<mailto:antje.meyer at mpi.nl>) and Prof. James McQueen  (j.mcqueen at donders.ru.nl<mailto:j.mcqueen at donders.ru.nl>)

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