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Imagine ordering a drink at a dinner, pointing at an empty glass as an attentive waiter passes by. How did you select that particular gesture, and how could the waiter possibly interpret it as you intended? This cognitive neuroscience project bridges the fields of social motor cognition and computational neuroscience to understand the emergence and control of interaction-specific shared context.
This project studies interlocutors engaged in linguistic and non-linguistic communicative referential games, using behavioural (arm movements, gaze) and neural (fMRI, EEG) correlates of production and comprehension of communicative signals. The goal of this project is to understand neurocognitive mechanisms supporting the construction of an interaction-specific context, i.e. the context that allows interlocutors to communicate effectively with referentially flexible signals. The project will test the hypothesis that interlocutors' brains become synchronised to shared communicative control parameters, over and above the dynamics of the signals' occurrence.
We are looking for a candidate with an MSc degree interested in starting a PhD and joining a multidisciplinary team at the Donders Institute. The project is embedded in the research groups of Prof. Ivan Toni, Prof. Arjen Stolk, Prof. Bruno Galantucci, and Dr Jana Basnakova, combining expertise in social neurocognition, experimental semiotics and neuropragmatics. The project will use novel computational tools (e.g. Transformers) to analyse behavioural and neural data recorded simultaneously in dyads of interlocutors (dual-fMRI), with the goal of extracting control parameters of communicative interactions. The project will also involve non-invasive manipulation of the brain regions involved in computing those control parameters.
You will be responsible for analysing existing neurobehavioural data from human participants involved in referential communicative games, and for planning/executing follow-up interventional studies. The position also involves supervision of 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. You will not have a teaching task.
Fixed-term contract: 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).
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, multidisciplinary and supportive research environment with a diverse international staff. English is the lingua franca at the Institute.
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