PhD Candidate in Systems Neuroscience

PhD Candidate in Systems Neuroscience

Published Deadline Location
16 Feb 19 Mar Amsterdam

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Job description

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).


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


You are passionate about science and have a particular interest in the mechanisms of sensory processing, perception and consciousness. You enjoy performing experimental lab work (specifically in the field of systems neuroscience), but are also passionate about performing data analysis and using computational tools. You have a creative mind and look forward to working on cutting-edge scientific questions. Finally, you are a team player and a nice colleague who enjoys being part of an interdisciplinary team of neuroscientists.

Your experience and profile
  • a Msc degree, preferably in systems neuroscience, experimental neurophysiology or related field;
  • significant experience in in vivo optogenetics, animal behaviour, electrophysiology (silicon probes or similar technology)
and/or neuronal imaging (2-photon and/or widefield calcium imaging) and surgical techniques;
  • significant experience in animal training and behaviour;
  • experience in, or at least affinity with, computational neuroscience and/or theory of consciousness;
  • experience in computer programming language (Matlab, Python) and neural data analysis;
  • FELASA B (article 9) license for animal experiments is considered an advantage;
  • fluency in English, both written and spoken.

Conditions of employment

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 4 years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years). The preferred starting date is 1 May 2023. This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings.

Your salary will range between €2,541 in the first year to €3,247 gross per month in the last year of employment, on the basis of a full working week of 38 hours. This sum does not include the 8% holiday allowance and the 8.3% year-end allowance. A favorable tax agreement, the 30% ruling, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU) is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? More information can be found here.


Faculty of Science

The University of Amsterdam is the largest university in the Netherlands, with the broadest spectrum of degree programmes. It is an intellectual hub with 30,000 students, 6,000 employees and 3,000 doctoral students who are all committed to a culture of inquiring minds and scientific excellence.

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 8,000, as well as 1,800 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS) is one of the Faculty of Science's largest institutes. Its approximately 240 scientists and staff members work in 16 research groups that perform excellent research centered on four themes: Neurosciences, Cell & Systems Biology, Microbiology and Green Life Sciences.

Do you want to know more about our organization? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • max. €2541 per month
  • University graduate
  • 11218


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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