The Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience (CSN)
group is looking for a highly qualified and motivated PhD candidate to conduct research activities in the context of an NWO-ENW-M grant in synergistic collaboration with Dr. Christiaan de Kock at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Current research of the CSN group focuses on neural mechanisms of perception, multisensory integration, interactions between sensory and memory systems, and conscious representation. These topics are addressed using a variety of methods, such as ensemble recordings in task-performing subjects, optogenetics, computational modelling and advanced analysis of neural data.
Building on recent research, you will join a UvA-VU team of scientists that aims to unravel neural mechanisms of multisensory integration and segregation. Specifically, we will address the question how the brain comes to identify different modalities in which sensory changes occur. One of the hypotheses to be tested holds that the cerebral cortex exchanges information already in areas specialized for a single sense. The experimental work will comprise behavioral testing and optogenetics, supplemented with multi-area electrophysiology and/or 2-photon imaging, optogenetics and data analysis.
The PhD candidate at the UvA will elucidate the contribution of brain areas and ensembles of neurons, whereas a complementary VU position will focus on disentangling the cellular substrates of multisensory processing, using the same standardized behavioral task. Results will be embedded in an integrated approach with computational modelling and theoretical neuroscience.Tasks and responsibilities
- complete and defend a PhD thesis within the official appointment duration of four years;
- perform a series of experiments targeting optogenetic manipulation of cortical areas during a task requiring multisensory
change detection, with additional work in multi-area electrophysiology (with e.g. Neuropixels probes), histology and possibly widefield
calcium imaging and 2-photon imaging. The experiments are derived from a theoretical framework postulating that interactions
between sensory modalities in the cortex subserve multisensory integration as well as segregation, which is deemed
essential for conscious perception to arise;
- perform advanced analysis of the acquired experimental data and related datasets and publish the acquired results.
You will have access to state-of-the-art facilities for performing experiments, behavioral training and data analysis and collaborate
with group members in these activities. Animal facilities, as well as biotechnical and ICT support, are available;
- interact with local researchers, colleagues at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and several international consortia,
which will be conducive to the success of the project;
- take a leading role in writing manuscripts;
- present your results at (inter)national scientific meetings;
- participate in the Faculty of Science PhD training programme;
- assist in teaching undergraduates and Master's students;
- co-supervise junior scientists (technicians, MSc/BSc students).