Postdoc or PhD Position on Integrating Therapeutic Experiences with past Maladaptive Memories

Postdoc or PhD Position on Integrating Therapeutic Experiences with past Maladaptive Memories

Published Deadline Location
22 May 22 Jun Amsterdam

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Job description

We are seeking a highly qualified and motivated PhD student or postdoc for the project “Changing minds by reshaping memories”, which is funded by an NWO Vidi project awarded to dr. V.A. van Ast. You’ll conduct experimental research to investigate how novel therapeutic experiences can be optimally integrated with past maladaptive memories.

The project is embedded in the Amsterdam Emotional Memory lab , situated at the Clinical Psychology Department. The lab addresses fundamental questions about memory malleability, investigates mechanisms of change in the treatment of mental disorders, and contributes to treatment innovation.

What are you going to do?
Recalling the past brings up memories and emotions in the present. Upon retrieval however, memories can be changed – for better or for worse – either by integrating novel experiences with existing memories (integration), or by actively breaking down such connections (disintegration). However, why memory retrieval leads to integration in some instances and to disintegration at other times is poorly understood, and the consequences of these processes for evoked emotions, are unknown. This undermines the effectiveness of psychotherapies that rely upon retrieval-induced integration.

For this project, we seek a highly motivated and qualified PhD student or postdoc. Using tools such as fMRI and psychophysiology, you’ll conduct translational research to gain insight in the conditions and neurobiological mechanisms of (dis)integration of real-life memories, and how this affects symptom changes in emotional memory disorders. To do so, you will further develop variations on paradigms that we have recently developed, suitable to measure central characteristics (e.g., psychophysiological responses, episodic detail, associative memory) of both lab-induced and autobiographical emotional memories. The collected data you’ll analyze using fMRI, multilevel- and network modelling. Ultimately, you’ll write at least three experimental papers (or a doctoral thesis on the basis of at least four experimental papers).

You will conduct your research under the main supervision of dr. Vanessa van Ast at the University of Amsterdam, as part of her NWO-funded Vidi project “Changing minds by reshaping memories”. The project asks how integration of novel therapeutic experiences with past maladaptive memories can be promoted, while investigating neuronal, physiological, and psychological mechanisms of memory change. The project is also part of the group of the Amsterdam Emotional Memory lab that focusses on the mechanisms of (memory) change in the treatment of anxiety and related disorders. In the case of a PhD project, Prof. Merel Kindt will be your promotor in addition to dr. Vanessa van Ast.

The positions include 0.1 fte of teaching. Accordingly, subject to availability and qualifications, you will contribute to the teaching program of Clinical Psychology, by e.g., supervising thesis students.

Tasks and responsibilities
  • Plan and perform neuroimaging experiments in an independent manner;
  • Critically analyze and interpret results;
  • Take a leading role in writing manuscripts;
  • Present your results at (inter)national scientific meetings;
  • Collaborate with international and local researchers;
  • Assist in teaching undergraduates and/or Master’s students;
  • Supervise junior scientists (MSc/BSc students).

PhD: Conduct at least four experimental studies and complete a PhD thesis within the official appointment duration of four years;

Postdoc: Conduct at least three experimental studies within the official appointment duration of three years;


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


You are passionate about neuroscientific memory research and motivated to uncover mechanisms of (dis)integration of real-life memories using a scientifically sound approach. You like a challenge and are excited about performing experiments and analyzing the collected data. You keep your head cool when things get busy and have a flexible attitude when circumstances are unforeseen. You have a strong background in experimental psychology, statistical methods, and neuroimaging. Finally, you are a team player and a nice colleague with good communication skills as you will regularly join and present at lab meetings, as well (inter)national conferences sharing technical know-how and ideas.

Both positions require:
  • A strong interest in memory, brain functioning, psychophysiology, and clinical Psychology;
  • Affinity and solid experience with fMRI;
  • Solid experience with programming (e.g., R, Matlab, Presentation);
  • Strong analytical and statistical skills (i.e., fMRI analysis, multilevel modelling, mediation analysis);
  • The ambition to become a leading scientist;
  • A good command of written and spoken English;
  • Good project management skills;
  • Excellent social skills and team spirit.

PhD: You have (or are about to obtain) a MSc degree in (bio)psychology or a related field such as cognitive neuroscience or biomedical science;

Postdoc: You hold (or are about to obtain) a PhD in (bio)psychology or a related field such as cognitive neuroscience or biomedical science;

Conditions of employment

The position starts in February 2024 but later alternative dates may be considered.

The postdoc position concerns temporary employment of 30,4 hours per week for a maximum term of 3 years. The salary will be between €3074 and €5439 based on your experience (full-time in keeping with scale 11 of the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities). We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%.

The PhD position concerns temporary employment of 38 hours per week for a maximum term of 4 years The initial employment is for one year. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended to the maximum term. will be the salary will be €2.541,- gross per month in the first year and will increase to €3.247,- in the final year. We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%.

We also expect you to assist in teaching responsibilities such as undergraduates and master students.

The UvA offers excellent possibilities for further professional development and education.

What else do we offer
  • A position in which initiative and own input are highly valued
  • An enthusiastic and warm team open to new colleagues
  • An inspiring academic and international working environment in the heart of Amsterdam.


Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

The University of Amsterdam is the largest university in the Netherlands, with the broadest spectrum of degree programmes. It is an intellectual hub with 39,000 students, 6,000 employees and 3,000 doctoral students who are all committed to a culture of inquiring minds.

About the faculty

A challenging work environment with a variety of duties and ample scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organization. The social and behavioral sciences play a leading role in addressing the major societal challenges faced by the world, the Netherlands and Amsterdam, now and in the future.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • 30.4—38 hours per week
  • max. €3074 per month
  • University graduate
  • 11603


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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Nieuwe Achtergracht 166, 1018WV, Amsterdam

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