2 PhD positions in cognitive neuroscience and computer vision

2 PhD positions in cognitive neuroscience and computer vision

Published Deadline Location
26 May 5 Jul Amsterdam

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Job description

Have you ever wondered how you are able to understand the content of a photo in just a single glance? Or to look at your phone while walking on the street without bumping into parked cars or other people? We are seeking 2 PhD candidates who are interested in the computations underlying visual perception in the human brain, who like to bridge research insights developed in neuroscience, artificial intelligence and psychology. The candidates will be supervised by Dr Groen, Assistant professor at the Informatics Institute and affiliated with Brain and Cognition programme group at the Psychology Research Institute. Dr Groen performs interdisciplinary research at the interface of cognitive neuroscience and computer science aimed at understanding naturalistic perception in the human brain. A major research direction will be the automatic extraction of scene information such as the layout and navigational affordances of the visual environment.

The PhD projects will involve working with computational models of vision, including deep neural networks, as well as collection and analysis of human neuroimaging data. The following are examples of research questions to be addressed in the PhD projects:

  • How does the human brain extract information about action affordances, such as the presence of a navigable path, from visually presented images?
  • What kind of representations are learned by deep neural networks trained on different types of scene processing tasks?
  • How can we use deep networks and/or other computational models of vision to better understand the neural activation patterns that we measure in the human brain during perception?

What are you going to do?

You will be based at the Intelligent Sensory Information Systems Lab at the Institute of Informatics at the University of Amsterdam, working closely with the Department of Psychology for data collection and analysis. You will be working with a multidisciplinary team on the analysis of human behavioural (categorizations, decisions, reaction times) and neuroscience data recorded from human brains (EEG, fMRI, ECoG) using computational tools and models from machine learning and computer vision.

Your tasks will be to:

  • run experiments that involve collecting behavioral and neuroimaging data from human participants;
  • train and test deep network models of visual perception;
  • develop and apply statistical analysis methods to compare computational models to human data;
  • collaborate with other researchers within the lab and the institute;
  • complete and defend a PhD thesis within the official appointment duration of four years;
  • regularly present intermediate research results at international conferences and workshops, and publish them in proceedings and journals;
  • assist in relevant teaching activities.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


  • A Master’s degree in Neuroscience, Cognitive Neuroscience, Psychology, Computational Science, Artificial Intelligence, or a related field;
  • a strong interest in computational modeling of perceptual processes;
  • a strong interest in, and preferably existing experience with, human neuroimaging data collection and analysis (e.g., fMRI or EEG);
  • a strong interest in computer vision and machine learning;
  • excellent programming skills, for example in Matlab, Python, or C/C++;
  • solid mathematics foundations, especially statistics and linear algebra;
  • a proactive and independent mindset;
  • strong communication, presentation and writing skills and excellent command of English.

Conditions of employment

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week preferably starting 1 October 2020 for the duration of 4 years (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) and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). You will get a customized Training and Supervision Plan, that will be evaluated every year. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduate and master students.

The salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be €2,325 to €2,972 (scale P) gross per month, based on a full-time contract (38 hours a week). These amounts are 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? Then find out more about working at the Faculty of Science.


University of Amsterdam

With over 5,000 employees, 30,000 students and a budget of more than 600 million euros, the University of Amsterdam (UvA) is an intellectual hub within the Netherlands. Teaching and research at the UvA are conducted within seven faculties: Humanities, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Economics and Business, Law, Science, Medicine and Dentistry. Housed on four city campuses in or near the heart of Amsterdam, where disciplines come together and interact, the faculties have close links with thousands of researchers and hundreds of institutions at home and abroad.  

The UvA’s students and employees are independent thinkers, competent rebels who dare to question dogmas and aren’t satisfied with easy answers and standard solutions. To work at the UvA is to work in an independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterised by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society.


Faculty of Science - Informatics Institute

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 6,500, 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 mission of the Informatics Institute is to perform curiosity-driven and use-inspired fundamental research in Computer Science. The main research themes are Artificial Intelligence, Computational Science and Systems and Network Engineering. Our research involves complex information systems at large, with a focus on collaborative, data driven, computational and intelligent systems, all with a strong interactive component.

The PhD positions are embedded within the Intelligent Sensory Information Systems Group, one of the larger groups within the Informatics Institute working on visual recognition and retrieval, headed by Prof. Cees Snoek. Human subject data collection will take place at the Research Lab of the Psychology Research Institute. The lab will be part of the European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems (ELLIS), a European initiative focused on open research and close collaboration between basic academic research and industrial labs in artificial intelligence.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2325—€2972 per month
  • University graduate
  • 20-314


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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