PhD Position: Neural and Computational Control Mechanisms of Social-Emotional Regulation

PhD Position: Neural and Computational Control Mechanisms of Social-Emotional Regulation

Published Deadline Location
26 Apr yesterday Nijmegen

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Job description

Do you have a MSc degree in (cognitive) neuroscience? Do you have a strong collaborative attitude and want to be part of a world-class interfaculty research centre? Apply for this PhD position at the Donders Institute and become part of a cognitive neuroscience project that bridges the fields of social motor cognition, affective neuroscience, and clinical psychology to understand social-emotional control.

This project focuses on how individuals rapidly consider action goals alternative to their automatic action tendencies, and select an option based on potential consequences of those alternative action goals. The project considers two ways people can overcome automatic social-emotional action tendencies: internal goal-switching, internally generating alternative goals for those actions; or learning external outcomes, based on learned consequences of an action. We aim to assess how the combination of these two neuro-computational mechanisms explains human social-emotional regulation and its variation across individuals in relation to social anxiety.

We are looking for an MSc graduate interested in starting a PhD to join a multidisciplinary team consisting of members from the Behavioural Science Institute as well as the Donders Institute. The project is embedded in the research groups of Prof. Karin Roelofs,  Prof. Ivan Toni, and Dr Lennart Verhagen, combining expertise in experimental psychopathology, social neurocognition and neuromodulation. The project will manipulate neural nodes, implementing social-emotional regulation using non-invasive neuro-modulation methods (transcranial focused ultrasound), and measure neuro-behavioural consequences of that intervention. This knowledge will then be used in the second part of the project to enhance the efficacy of clinical interventions in individuals with high social anxiety.

You will be responsible for planning, executing and analysing projects investigating the control of emotional action tendencies during the performance of social-emotional control tasks in fMRI, using transcranial focused ultrasound and/or transcranial alternating current stimulation. The position also involves supervising a dedicated research assistant as well as mentoring MSc students. You will take the lead in reporting the findings, in collaboration with the PIs, in international journals and conferences.

This position may involve some teaching duties.


Radboud University


  • You should hold an MSc degree in cognitive neuroscience or a related field.
  • You have experience in human neuroimaging, computational modelling of behaviour, and/or neuromodulation.
  • You have experience with coding (Matlab or Python, R).
  • You are fluent in written and spoken English.
  • Given the interdisciplinary and multi-PI research setting, you should have a strong collaborative attitude and a proven ability to work in a team.

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.
  • You will be part of the Donders Graduate School for Cognitive Neuroscience.
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.


Your position will be embedded at the Behavioural Science Institute but your daily workplace will be at the Donders Institute, Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging.

The Behavioural Science Institute (BSI) is a multidisciplinary research institute and one of three research institutes in the Faculty of Social Sciences at Radboud University.

Our researchers collaborate across the boundaries of psychology, educational science, and communication science. Our mission is to strengthen people through understanding the foundations of human behaviour, by creating synergy between different paradigms and by facilitating craftsmanship, curiosity and connection in academic research.

BSI has seven research programmes covering three major research themes, namely human development, connection and health. BSI conducts fundamental as well as applied/translational research and has excellent facilities and support for lab and field research. Moreover, the BSI is known for its successful graduate school and strong commitment to open science.

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. 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.

Both involved institutes are equal opportunity employers committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, and to building a culturally diverse intellectual community, and as such encourages applications from people of colour, women, people with disabilities, people from LGBTQIAP+ communities, and people from other diverse communities.

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
  • Behaviour and society; Natural sciences
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1209396



Houtlaan 4, 6525 XZ, Nijmegen

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