PhD student Meditation and the predictive brain

PhD student Meditation and the predictive brain

Published Deadline Location
2 Dec 24 Dec Amsterdam

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Job description

A fully funded 4-year PhD position on meditation and the predictive brain is available at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, supervised by Prof. Heleen Slagter ( The position is part of the ERC-funded project "PLASTICITYOFMIND", which aims to better understand the action-oriented and predictive nature of the human mind and its plasticity. The PhD project will involve cognitive neuroscience studies in meditators and controls. The PhD student will be part of the Cognition and Plasticity Lab, which is embedded in the Section Cognitive Psychology within the Department of Experimental and Applied Psychology ( The Department provides a vibrant, international research climate with high quality academic staff supported by excellent research facilities, including eye tracking, EEG, and fMRI facilities.

Our brains continuously predict the future based on the past. This project will examine the automaticity and plasticity of predictive processes using meditation. It will specifically test the hypothesis that different kinds of meditation may progressively reduce the predictive activity in the brain by bringing the practitioner more and more into the present moment. Using neuroimaging and clever experimental paradigms, the project will examine how mediation may reduce temporally extended processes, such as episodic future thinking and decision making, but can also lead to more unusual kinds of experiences reported by meditators, including loss of self-other distinction and the cessation of time. The PhD student will develop and execute experimental studies in the context of the research project, and report results at conferences and in international journals, leading to a PhD dissertation. The PhD student will also have the opportunity to follow courses and will provide teaching assistance.


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


We are looking for highly motivated candidates with a MSc degree, preferably a 2-year research master degree, in Cognitive Neuroscience, and with demonstrable interest in the topic of the PhD project. To be considered, applicants must have experience with human brain imaging techniques (EEG and/or fMRI) and meditation (research). Strong technical skills (programming) are a plus. Applicants should also possess strong writing skills, support open science, and have a good command of English. Applicants should be able to start by August 1st 2022 the latest

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1 year.

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,434 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,111 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor - from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam's Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences
The Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences focuses on the broad domain of behaviour and health. Our teaching and research programmes are devoted to current developments in society, from healthy aging to e-health, from juvenile crime to dealing with depression, from training for top athletes to social media as a teaching tool. We are unique in that we combine three academic disciplines: psychology, movement sciences and education.

Working at Behavioural and Movement Sciences means working in an ambitious organization that is characterized by an informal atmosphere and short lines of communication. Our faculty offers tremendous scope for personal development. We employ more than 600 staff members, and we are home to around 3,400 students.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 40 hours per week
  • €2434—€3111 per month
  • Doctorate
  • 8761


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

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De Boelelaan 1105, 1081HV, Amsterdam

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