PhD computational models of reading

PhD computational models of reading

Published Deadline Location
22 Sep 17 Oct Amsterdam

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Right now you are reading. It does not cost you much effort because it is a highly automated process, but you are simultaneously decoding letters, moving visual attention, programming eye movements, recognizing words, stringing them together in a coher...

Job description

The project is built around OB1, a computational model of reading with which one can simulate reading as it happens in the brain. This model (published in Psychological Review, 2018) was the first to integrate two fields of reading research, namely the recognition of single words, and how you string them together to read a sentence. You will build a new version of this model, that takes it to one extra level: from reading sentences to understanding what they mean. This involves cracking the hard nut of what it is to truly comprehend language. You then investigate whether this model can predict human reading. You will simulate data from already published experiments, and also perform some new experiments to test the model.

Your duties
  • conducting research on reading comprehension
  • building and extending computational models of reading
  • collaborating with other scientists, and supervising MSc students aiding in the project
  • presenting the results at conferences, in scientific papers, and in a dissertation
  • following courses at graduate level


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


  • having a master's degree in psychology, linguistics, artificial intelligence or another relevant field
  • ability to program, preferably in python
  • having affinity with studying cognition and language
  • having good oral and written communication skills in English

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 €2,541 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,247 (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 0.8 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:
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus, discounts on collective insurances (healthcare- and car insurance);, the possibility to work partly from home


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 30,000 students. We employ over 5,500 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
  • 30.4—38 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • 12720


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

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De Boelelaan 1105, 1081HV, Amsterdam

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