3 phd students and 1 postdoctoral researcher to investigate neurocognition and hormonal fluctuations

3 phd students and 1 postdoctoral researcher to investigate neurocognition and hormonal fluctuations

Published Deadline Location
31 Oct 30 Nov Leiden

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3 phd students and 1 postdoctoral researcher to investigate neurocognition and hormonal fluctuations.

Research Project

Changing landscapes: hormonal fluctuations and neurocognitive functioning across the female lifespan

Job description

We are seeking highly motivated and dedicated individuals to join a dynamic research team for a 5-year project focused on investigating the intricate relationship between hormonal fluctuations and neurocognitive processes across the female lifespan. This project is funded by an ERC Consolidator grant and will be conducted at the Social Performance Monitoring Lab (www.socpmlab.nl; headed by Prof. Ellen de Bruijn), located at the department of Clinical Psychology at Leiden University in the Netherlands. We have vacancies for 3 PhD students and one Postdoc with a preferred starting date of 1 February 2024.

Project Description
Women experience unrivalled drastic natural changes in sex hormone levels over the lifespan. These hormones are chiefly produced by the ovaries, but we now know they also exert regulatory effects outside the reproductive tract. Effects of ovarian hormones on brain plasticity and function are manifold, affecting, for example, behavioral, cognitive, affective, and motivational processes, thus ultimately influencing mental health. Puberty, menstrual cycle, and menopause are hence all critical transition periods in a female’s life. Along with the hormonal shifts, these periods are associated with major changes in physical, psychological, and psychosocial factors as well as increased risk of affective, anxiety, and stress-related symptoms.

Despite the widespread variety in the effects of hormonal changes, our understanding of how they together contribute to functioning and well-being in girls and women at different ages is strikingly little. The main aim of this research project is to address this pressing gap by employing a multi-disciplinary methodology combining longitudinal, psychopharmacological, and EEG techniques.

The primary focus of this research project is to measure neurocognitive processes in both non-social and social contexts in girls and women aged between 8 and 60 years. Along with more standard neurocognitive and affective functioning, there will be a specific emphasis on performance monitoring processes, such as error detection, learning from negative and positive feedback, performing while being observed, and performing in possible harmful contexts. We will assess a rich combination of different measures at various levels, including EEG, saliva and blood samples (for hormonal assessments), ecological momentary assessments, and questionnaires to assess relevant variables and traits such as pubertal status, mood, stress, sleep, and well-being. Methods of analyses will include event-related potentials and computational modelling.

Positions Available
  1. PhD Student – Puberty (5 years, 0.8 FTE): Investigate the impact of hormonal changes on neurocognitive development in girls (8-15 years) using a longitudinal design with three one-year interval measurements. Given the longitudinal design, a 5-year position at 80% is required and because of the intensive interactions with the girls and their parents, a good command of Dutch is desirable for this position.
  2. PhD Student – Menstrual cycle (4 years, 1.0 FTE): Explore the effects of hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle on cognitive function and behavior in naturally cycling women (25-35 years). The research will also include psychopharmacological manipulations (targeting estradiol, dopamine, and oxytocin) to investigate the interaction between involved endogenous and exogenous hormones and neurotransmitters.
  3. PhD Student - Menopause (4 years, 1.0 FTE): Examine the influence of hormonal changes during the menopausal transition on neurocognitive health (45-60 years). The research will also encompass psychopharmacological manipulations by investigating the effects of hormone-replacement therapy.
  4. Postdoctoral Researcher (4 years, 0.8 FTE): The primary research focus will be on integration of the t


Leiden University


Required qualifications:
  • For PhD Students: A (research) master's degree in psychology, neurobiology, neuroscience or a related field.
  • For Postdoctoral Researcher: A Ph.D. in psychology, neurobiology, neuroendocrinology, neuroscience or a related field. Relevant publication record.
  • For both positions:
    • A passion for women’s health, interdisciplinary scientific research, and knowledge dissemination.
    • Strong analytical and research skills.
    • Good social skills and enthusiasm about closely collaborating with other team members.
    • Good written and verbal communication skills in English.

Desired qualifications:
  • Experience with using R and handling data with a hierarchical or nested structure (e.g., linear mixed modelling).
  • Experience with EEG methodology.
  • Computational modeling skills.
  • Be enthusiastic about translating scientific insights into practical guidelines.

Conditions of employment

Our organization
The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences comprises four institutes: Education and Child Studies, Political Science, Psychology and Cultural Anthropology & Development Sociology. The Faculty also includes the Centre for Science and Technology Studies. The Faculty is home to 7,000 students and 1025 members of staff. Our teaching and research programmes cover diverse topics varying from adoption to political behaviour. For more information, see https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/social-behavioural-sciences.

Terms and conditions
For PhD students: The appointment will initially be for 12 months and if evaluated positively extended with 3 or 4 years, depending on the exact position, and must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis. The salary ranges from €2770 gross per month in the 1st year up to €3539 gross per month in the 4th year based on a fulltime employment (in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). A part-time position can be discussed.

For Postdoctoral Researcher: The appointment will initially be for 12 months and if evaluated positively extended with 3 years. We offer a 0.8 FTE position as postdoctoral researcher and an opportunity to combine this appointment with teaching in the department of Clinical Psychology within the BA and MA program (0.1-0,2 FTE depending on the interests and expertise of the successful candidate). The salary is dependent on the number of years of relevant work experience and knowledge and ranges from € 4.332 up to a maximum of € 5929 gross per month (Salary scale 11) on a full time basis (in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. More information can be found at https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/working-at/job-application-procedure-and-employment-conditions.

Diversity and inclusion are core values of Leiden University. Leiden University is committed to becoming an inclusive community which enables all students and staff to feel valued and respected and to develop their full potential. Diversity in experiences and perspectives enriches our teaching and strengthens our research. High quality teaching and research is inclusive.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 14251



Rapenburg 70, 2311EZ, Leiden

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