PhD Candidate on Situational Differences in L2 Word Learning at the Donders Centre for Cognition

PhD Candidate on Situational Differences in L2 Word Learning at the Donders Centre for Cognition

Published Deadline Location
1 Nov 28 Nov Nijmegen

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Job description

How people learn a second language (L2) is rarely investigated from the perspective of neurobiological memory research. Prominent memory theories claim that neuroanatomically different memory systems are involved in the formation and retention of long-term memories. Together with our team, you will investigate the role of these memory systems in L2 word learning across different learning situations.

We are only slowly beginning to understand the different ways in which memories can be formed and retained in long-term memory. Different memory systems in our brain (e.g. the hippocampus vs neocortical structures) are involved, depending not only on how long ago the information was learned, but probably also on the type of learning material (e.g. whether it matches with our prior experience or not) and learning situation (explicit vs implicit learning).

In four separate experimental studies, you will make use of behavioural, electrophysiological (EEG) and brain imaging techniques (e.g. fMRI) to get to the bottom of how different memory systems are used for L2 word learning in different contexts. You will particularly test the validity of the so-called schema-learning theory, as well as of the fast-mapping account, with respect to L2 word learning.

We expect the results of the project to represent a big step towards a better understanding of situational variability in learning (i.e. not only in terms of language).

This position is part of the ERC Consolidator project 'MultiMemoryL2 - Multiple routes to memory for a second language' recently awarded to Dr Kristin Lemhöfer. You will work with the members of that project in a team. The supervisory team consists of Dr Kristin Lemhöfer, Prof. James McQueen, Dr Gabriele Janzen, and Dr Vitória Piai.

At the Donders Institute, you are required to devote 10% of your time to teaching or other academic activities (e.g., lab management).


Radboud University


  • You are enthusiastic about science and the topic, and hold a Master's degree in cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, psycholinguistics, or another relevant field.
  • You have excellent analytic, statistical, methodological, and writing skills, as well as experience in experimental research (ideally within memory research or psycholinguistics), and team spirit.
  • Prior experience with EEG and fMRI research, programming and Dutch (the participants' native language) would be an advantage.
  • You have an excellent written and spoken command of English.
  • Members of groups underrepresented in academia (e.g. in terms of gender or ethnicity) are especially encouraged to apply.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: You will be employed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract).

  • It concerns an employment for 1.0 FTE.
  • The gross starting salary amounts to €2,541 per month based on a 38-hour working week, and will increase to €3,247 in the fourth year (salary scale P).
  • You will receive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
  • You will be employed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract).
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Care Services. Our Dual Career and Family Care Officer can assist you with family-related support, help your partner or spouse prepare for the local labour market, provide customized support in their search for employment and help your family settle in Nijmegen.
  • Working for us means getting extra days off. In case of full-time employment, you can choose between 30 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the legally allotted 20.
Work and science require good employment practices. This is reflected in Radboud University's primary and secondary employment conditions. You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself, for example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports subscription. And of course, we offer a good pension plan. You are given plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.


The Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour is a world-class interfaculty research centre, that houses more than 700 researchers devoted to understanding the mechanistic underpinnings of the human mind. Research at the Donders Institute is focused around four themes: 1. Language and communication, 2. Perception, action and control, 3. Plasticity and memory, 4. Neural computation and neurotechnology. The position is embedded in Theme 1, but has close links also to Theme 3. Donders scientists work together with colleagues from affiliated institutes like the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, the Behavioral Science Institute, and the Centre for Language Studies. Excellent, state-of-the-art research facilities are available for the broad range of neuroscience research that is being conducted at the Donders Institute. The Donders Institute has been assessed by an international evaluation committee as ‘excellent’ and recognised as a ‘very stimulating environment for top researchers, as well as for young talent’. The Donders Institute fosters a collaborative, multi-disciplinary, supportive research environment with a diverse international staff. English is the lingua franca at the Institute.

The position is based at the Donders Centre for Cognition (DCC), one of the four centres of the Donders institute. It is part of the Faculty for Social Sciences of Radboud University and is host to a vibrant community of PhD candidates.

Radboud University

We want to get the best out of science, others and ourselves. Why? Because this is what the world around us desperately needs. Leading research and education make an indispensable contribution to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. This is what unites the more than 24,000 students and 5,600 employees at Radboud University. And this requires even more talent, collaboration and lifelong learning. You have a part to play!


  • PhD; Research, development, innovation; Education
  • Language and culture
  • max. 40 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1199320



Houtlaan 4, 6525 XZ, Nijmegen

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