PhD Candidate in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Subjective Experience at the Donders Centre for Cognition

PhD Candidate in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Subjective Experience at the Donders Centre for Cognition

Published Deadline Location
19 Apr 30 May Nijmegen

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Job description

Are you passionate about unraveling the mysteries of consciousness? And do you want to delve into fMRI, pupillometry, and information theory to understand how sensory predictions shape our perception of color? Then join Donders Centre for Cognition as a PhD candidate!

This PhD project aims to address a primary challenge of consciousness research: to explain phenomenological properties of conscious experience in terms of neural processes. You will investigate how sensory predictions determine individual differences in the subjective experience of colour. You will compare trainees, who generate novel letter-colour predictions by reading books with coloured letters, with developmental synesthetes, who have life-long sensory predictions of colour evoked by letters. Pupil dilation measurements, information theory modelling and fMRI will be used to explore the role of brainstem neuromodulators and the colour-selective visual cortex in shaping the subjective experience of colour, aiming to establish a computational link between neural processes and conscious phenomena.

You should be passionate about investigating the neural basis of subjective experience and be willing to spend time learning about and performing experiments using pupil dilation measurements, information theory and ultra-high field fMRI. Furthermore, you should be willing to create individual testing materials and recruit participants from special populations. During this project, you will conduct several experimental studies and write a dissertation. You will be expected to conduct high-quality research, come up with creative solutions, work diligently, and interact with peers worldwide. You will also be asked to spend 10% of your time on teaching. This is a four-year, fully funded PhD position.


Radboud University


  • You should hold a Master’s degree in a relevant field (e.g. cognitive neuroscience, cognitive psychology, psychobiology, neuroscience).
  • You show strong enthusiasm for the topics of study: subjective experience, sensory processing and individual differences.
  • You have experience with quantitative experimental design and statistical analysis.
  • You have an affinity for programming (ideally in Python).
  • Experience with fMRI, pupil dilation, eye-tracking and/or perceptual paradigms is a plus.
  • You have an excellent command of written and spoken English.
  • You are self-motivated, open-minded and able to collaborate in a team.
  • You are motivated to assist in teaching the Neurophilosophy course as part of your teaching responsibilities.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 or 5 years.

  • We will give you a temporary employment contract (0.8 FTE 5- year contract - 1.0 FTE 4- year contract) of 1,5 years, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, your contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4-year contract) or 3.5 years (5-year contract).
  • You will receive a starting salary of €2,770 gross per month based on a 38-hour working week, which will increase to €3,539 in the fourth year (salary scale P).
  • You will receive an 8% holiday allowance and an 8,3% end-of-year bonus.
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Support Service. The Dual Career Programme assists your partner via support, tools, and resources to improve their chances of independently finding employment in the Netherlands. Our Family Support Service helps you and your partner feel welcome and at home by providing customised assistance in navigating local facilities, schools, and amenities. Also take a look at our support for international staff page to discover all our services for international employees.
  • You will receive extra days off. With full-time employment, you can choose between 30 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the statutory 20.

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.


You will be working under the daily supervision of Dr Olympia Colizoli and you will be co-supervised by an excellent team consisting of Prof. Rob van Lier, Dr Tessa van Leeuwen and Dr Luke Miller.

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.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 24.033.24



Houtlaan 4, 6525XZ, Nijmegen

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