PhD Student Neuroscience of Disordered Desires and Resulting Biological Treatment Options (Neurofeedback), Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Department Cognitive Neuroscience

PhD Student Neuroscience of Disordered Desires and Resulting Biological Treatment Options (Neurofeedback), Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Department Cognitive Neuroscience

Published Deadline Location
2 Aug 2 Sep Maastricht

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For the NWO Gravitation Project ‘New Science of Mental Disorders’, we are looking for a PhD student with a strong interest, and preferably experience, in the neuroscience (neuroimaging) of motivation, for example related to eating behaviour and its disorders.

The network approach to psychopathology defines mental illness as a system of dynamically interacting variables (e.g., symptoms). The goal of this NWO Gravitation Project is to take the network approach to psychopathology to the next level, and to critically test its value and usefulness for personalized treatment. In this project, we will investigate disordered desires in relation to eating and in other contexts with a combination of the network approach to psychopathology and neuroscience. Our aim is to develop new treatment options for disordered desires based on self-regulation of brain activity through providing neurofeedback enabled by real-time analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) signals.

Job description

Background: Our group investigates brain networks of desire and incentive sensitisation in a transdiagnostic framework. We combine behavioural and neuroimaging methods and one specific aim of this project is to develop neurofeedback protocols that can be used in the treatment of disordered desires, for example in the context of eating disorders.

Research method: You will analyse fMRI data using Multi-Voxel Pattern Analyses (MVPA) and Representational Similarity Analysis (RSA), which decode information content in the brain, to answer the crucial question of how food and other motivational stimuli are represented as distributed brain activity in the brain. You will also apply uni- and multivariate real-time fMRI analysis in order to provide neurofeedback for the self-regulation training of the relevant brain networks and use ecological momentary assessments to evaluate effects on symptom networks.

Your job: You will be responsible for programming the experimental protocols and test the participants. You will be trained on how to use our MRI facilities. Next, you will analyse both fMRI and behavioural data, and publish your results in scientific journals, and write a doctoral dissertation based on your research.

Embedding: Maastricht University is the leading institution of the Gravitation project, heading an interdisciplinary team with staff members of Dutch universities, divided over 6 teams. This PhD position is embedded in ‘team disordered desires’, and will be based at the Maastricht Brain Imaging Centre (MBIC:

You will work closely with other PhD candidates working in affective and motivational neuroscience and neurofeedback (based in Maastricht at the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience (FPN) and the School for Mental Health and Neuroscience of the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences), and you will be supervised by a team of three experienced researchers (psychology, neuroscience and psychiatry).


Maastricht University (UM)


  • A (Research)Master’s degree in psychology, neuroscience or another relevant discipline;
  • Strong statistical skills;
  • Excellent communication skills;
  • Profound programming skills;
  • Well-developed analytical skills and creativity;
  • Excellent writing and presentation skills (English).

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

Temporary employment for 4 years. The first year will be a probation period, after a positive assessment the position will be extended for another 3 years, which happens in the vast majority of cases.

Your salary would be € 2.395,- gross per month in the first year up to € 3.061,- gross per month in the fourth year according to the PhD-candidate salary scale. An 8% holiday and an 8.3% year-end allowance is also provided. Each year an evaluation will take place.

The terms of employment of Maastricht University are set out in the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO). Furthermore, local UM provisions also apply. For more information look at the website > About UM > Working at UM.


Maastricht University

Maastricht University is renowned for its unique, innovative, problem-based learning system, which is characterized by a small-scale and student-oriented approach. Research at UM is characterized by a multidisciplinary and thematic approach, and is concentrated in research institutes and schools. Maastricht University has around 20,000 students and 4,700 employees. Reflecting the university's strong international profile, a fair amount of both students and staff are from abroad. The university hosts 6 faculties: Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Faculty of Law, School of Business and Economics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience. For more information, visit


  • PhD
  • Health
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2395—€3061 per month
  • University graduate
  • AT2021.311


Maastricht University (UM)

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