PhD Position on Integrating Therapeutic Experiences with Past Maladaptive Memories

PhD Position on Integrating Therapeutic Experiences with Past Maladaptive Memories

Published Deadline Location
18 Aug 11 Sep Amsterdam

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Job description

We are seeking a highly qualified and motivated PhD candidate for the project "Changing minds by reshaping memories", which is funded by an NWO Vidi project awarded to dr. V.A. van Ast. You'll conduct experimental research to investigate how novel therapeutic experiences can be optimally integrated with past maladaptive memories.

The PhD project is embedded in the Amsterdam Emotional Memory lab , situated at the Clinical Psychology Department. The lab addresses fundamental questions about memory malleability, investigates mechanisms of change in the treatment of mental disorders, and contributes to treatment innovation.

What are you going to do

Recalling the past brings up memories and emotions in the present. Upon retrieval however, memories can be changed - for better or for worse - either by integrating novel experiences with existing memories (integration), or by actively breaking down such connections (disintegration). However, why memory retrieval leads to integration in some instances and to disintegration at other times is poorly understood, and the consequences of these processes for evoked emotions, are unknown. This undermines the effectiveness of psychotherapies that rely upon retrieval-induced integration.

For this project, we seek a highly motivated and qualified PhD candidate. You'll conduct translational research in the lab and the clinical field to gain insight in the conditions and neurobiological mechanisms of (dis)integration of real-life memories, and how this affects symptom changes in emotional memory disorders. To do so, you will further develop variations on paradigms that we have recently developed, suitable to measure central characteristics (e.g., psychophysiological responses, episodic detail, associative memory) of both lab-induced and autobiographical emotional memories. The collected data you'll analyze using multilevel- and network modelling. Ultimately, you'll write a doctoral thesis on the basis of at least five experimental papers.

You will conduct your research under the supervision of dr. Vanessa van Ast at the University of Amsterdam, as part of her NWO-funded Vidi project "Changing minds by reshaping memories". The project asks how integration of novel therapeutic experiences with past maladaptive memories can be promoted, while investigating neuroendocrinological, physiological, and psychological mechanisms of memory change. The project is also part of the group of the Amsterdam Emotional Memory lab that focusses on the mechanisms of (memory) change in the treatment of anxiety and related disorders. Prof. Merel Kindt will be your promotor.

The position includes 0.1 fte of teaching. Accordingly, subject to availability and qualifications, you will contribute to the teaching program of Clinical Psychology, by e.g., supervising (bachelor) thesis students.

Tasks and responsibilities:
  • Complete and defend a PhD thesis within the official appointment duration of four years;
  • Plan and perform experiments in an independent manner;
  • Critically analyze and interpret results;
  • Take a leading role in writing manuscripts;
  • Present your results at (inter)national scientific meetings;
  • Collaborate with international and local researchers;
  • Assist in teaching undergraduates and Master's students;
  • Co-supervise junior scientists (MSc/BSc students).


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


You are passionate about neuroscientific memory research and motivated to uncover mechanisms of (dis)integration of real-life memories using a scientifically sound approach. You like a challenge and are excited about performing experiments and analyzing the collected data. You keep your head cool when things get busy and have a flexible attitude when circumstances are unforeseen. You have a strong background in experimental psychology and statistical methods. Finally, you are a team player and a nice colleague with good communication skills as you will regularly join and present at lab meetings, as well (inter)national conferences sharing technical know-how and ideas.

Your experience and profile:
  • You have (or are about to obtain) a MSc degree in (bio)psychology or a related field such as cognitive neuroscience or biomedical science;
  • A strong interest in memory, brain functioning, psychophysiology, and clinical Psychology;
  • Affinity and (preferably) experience with fMRI;
  • Affinity and experience with programming (e.g., R, Matlab, Presentation);
  • Strong analytical and statistical skills (i.e., multilevel modelling, mediation analysis);
  • The ambition to become a leading scientist;
  • A good command of written and spoken English;
  • Good project management skills;
  • Excellent social skills and team spirit.

Conditions of employment

The position starts in December 2022 but a later date may be considered. The position concerns temporary employment of 38 hours per week (or 30,4 hours) for a maximum term of 4 years. The initial employment is for one year. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended by a maximum of 3 years, which should result in the conferral of a doctorate. We will put together a curriculum which will also include the opportunity to attend training courses and both national and international meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and master students.

For this position the University Job Classification profile 'Promovendus' applies.

Your salary will be €2541 gross per month in the first year and will increase to €3247 in the final year, based on full-time employment and in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities. We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%.

The UvA offers excellent possibilities for further professional development and education.

What else do we offer
  • A position in which initiative and own input are highly valued
  • An enthusiastic and warm team open to new colleagues
  • An inspiring academic and international working environment in the heart of Amsterdam.


Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

The University of Amsterdam is the largest university in the Netherlands, with the broadest spectrum of degree programmes. It is an intellectual hub with 39,000 students, 6,000 employees and 3,000 doctoral students who are all committed to a culture of inquiring minds.

About the faculty

A challenging work environment with a variety of duties and ample scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organization. The social and behavioral sciences play a leading role in addressing the major societal challenges faced by the world, the Netherlands and Amsterdam, now and in the future.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • 30.4—38 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • 10191


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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Nieuwe Achtergracht 166, 1018WV, Amsterdam

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