PhD candidate in Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience of Belief Updating

PhD candidate in Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience of Belief Updating

Published Deadline Location
19 Feb 1 Apr Amsterdam

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Job description

Predictions inform almost all our decisions (e.g., when choosing the bike over the bus, based on the predicted duration and weather conditions). Critically, sometimes unexpected changes in the world render our predictions invalid (e.g., nearby roadworks result in a longer-than-predicted trip duration). Normative Bayesian theory prescribes that after particularly surprising outcomes, existing beliefs should be updated quickly using the newly arriving information. What are the brain circuits that mediate the flexible updating of prior beliefs?

The project will test theory-driven hypotheses using an integrative, cross-species approach combining laminar ensemble recordings (single-unit resolution), multi-fiber photometry and optogenetics in mice, and laminar functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at 7 Tesla in humans. Mouse and human observers will undergo an identical statistical learning paradigm.

The project, led by dr. Mototaka Suzuki and dr. Jan Willem de Gee, is embedded in the Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience (CSN) group at the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS). You will receive top-notch interdisciplinary training which will prepare you well for a career in cognitive and systems neuroscience.

The mission of the Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience group, one of the researchgroups of the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, is to elucidate how neuronal networks distributed across the sensory neocortex, frontal cortex, hippocampal memory system and subcortical regions cooperate in perception, decision-making and memory processing. We are interested in questions such as how perceptual representations are formed and how perceptual decisions are made.

We employ state-of-the-art tools such as laminar ensemble recordings (single-unit resolution), 2-photon imaging, multi-fiber photometry, optogenetics, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI; at 7 Tesla), electroencephalography and pupillometry.

What are you going to do?
You are expected to design, plan, and perform experiments in mice and humans. Co-supervisors will help during every stage of the project, but your strong motivation and pro-active work ethic is required. You are expected to learn new techniques quickly, if necessary.

Tasks and responsibilities:
  • complete and defend a PhD thesis within the official appointment duration of four years;
  • design, plan, and perform experiments and data analysis in an independent manner;
  • critically analyze and interpret results;
  • write manuscripts;
  • present your results at (inter)national scientific meetings;
  • collaborate with international and local researchers;
  • participate in the Faculty of Science PhD training programme;
  • assist in teaching undergraduates and Master students;
  • co-supervise MSc/BSc students.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


You are passionate about neuroscience with a particular interest in neuromodulators and prediction. You should be able and motivated to acquire new knowledge through experiments from both mice and humans.

Your experience and profile:
You have/are:
  • a Master degree in Neuroscience or related fields;
  • affinity with perception and Bayesian theory;
  • experienced in in-vivo imaging / electrophysiology in rodents and/or fMRI in humans;
  • good programming skills;
  • good analytical, writing and presenting skills;
  • proficient in English, both spoken and written.

Conditions of employment

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week, preferably starting on 1 June 2024, 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). This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and master students.

The salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be € 2,770 in the first year to € 3,539 in the last year (scale P) gross per month, based on a fulltime contract (38 hours a week). This is exclusive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here.


Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 7,000, as well as 1,600 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 is one of eight institutes in the Faculty of Science (FNWI). SILS is a multidisciplinary research institute with a systems biology approach to the life sciences. The institute brings together approximately 240 researchers in 18 research groups.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 31 March 2024. You can apply online by using the link below.

Applications in .pdf should include:
  • a motivation letter and CV, including a list of publications,
  • a copy of your Master’s thesis (when available). If not yet available,

please include a copy of your Bachelor’s thesis.
  • a list of all university courses taken, including a transcript of grades;
  • the name and contact details (including email address) of two referees who can provide details about your profile

(one of whom should be the main supervisor of your Master thesis).

Please mention the months (not just years) in your CV when referring to your education and work experience.

A knowledge security check can be part of the selection procedure.
(for details: National knowledge security guidelines)

"The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity."


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • 12663


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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Science Park 904, 1098XH, Amsterdam

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