PhD WP3 GUTS - Nederlands Herseninstituut - Amsterdam

PhD WP3 GUTS - Nederlands Herseninstituut - Amsterdam

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23 May 31 May Amsterdam

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PhD in social-cognitive neuroscience
What does enable young people to successfully interact with other individuals in our complex societies? Can inter-individual differences in affective empathy at young age predict the likelihood of current and futur...

Job description

GUTS: Growing Up Together in Society

The Growing Up Together in Society (GUTS)consortium, funded by a Gravitation grant from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science,includes the collaboration of seven Dutch universities that together investigatehow young people successfully navigate and grow upin our complex society.

We will study individual neurobiological development in relation to educational processes, social networks, and societal norms, including antisocial behavior. We will use state-of-the-art designs and methodological advances to develop an integrative framework on self-regulation development and contributions to society that will have explanatory as well as predictive power across multiple domains of functioning in adolescence and early adulthood.

Work description

Your Role

As a PhD you are part of a sub-team of the GUTS project that operates in Amsterdam, which has the unique aim to include 400 young participants (ages 10-12-years) that are at high risk of developing severe behavioral problems.

During your PhD, you will mainly focus on understanding the role of affective empathy in developing successful social interactions, in a cohort of children (10-12 years) that are at high risk of developing antisocial and delinquent behavior.Affective empathy will be mainly measured through fMRI as activity in response to the emotional state of other individuals. Social behaviour will be measure through social behavioural tasks and inteviews. During your PhD you will have the opportunity to:
  • study the role of affective empathycombining forensic-, behavioral- and neuroscience;
  • setting upand recruit the high risk antisocial cohort of 400 children in the age range between 10-12, together with the PIs, a postdoc and two other PhDs
  • collect and analyze fMRI (the empathy task in particular), behavioural (e.g. a social variation of the flanker task) and interviews (e.g. from questionnaires, and structure interviews) data
  • access and analyse previously acquired large cohorts data to develop brain signature to be used to predict anti-social behavior in the newly acquired cohort
  • closely collaborate and coordinate with other member of the GUTS consortium at different seniority levels
  • publish your findings in open access scientific journals.
  • actively participate in the communication with young people about their perspective on the study an relevant assessments, as well as the clinical and societal impact of your research findings.
You should expect from us

In this 4-year-project, you will learn lots of skills related to being a scientist of the next generation. You enjoy team science and you like to dive into challenging scientific questions. We value an open culture where everybody feels free to ask questions and make suggestions.
  • Acquiring the skills to manage a challenging, varied project with major scientific andsocietal impact.
  • The position offers the unique opportunity to translate fundamental cognitive neuroscience to society.
  • The opportunity to work with leading researchers from a wide variety of different disciplines.
  • Within GUTS, you'll be part of a larger community of PhD student with a specific training program
  • Guidance, support and mentoring from at least two PIs
  • A contract for 4 years for 1.0 fte conform the CAO UMC for PhD students.
  • Additional benefits including an 8.3% end-of-year bonus and 8% holiday pay;
Diversity & Inclusion
The KNAW considers a working environment in which everyone feels welcome and appreciated of great importance. A working environment in which attention is paid to individual quality and where development opportunities are paramount. Together we strive for an inclusive culture in which we embrace differences. We would therefore like to invite candidates who want to contribute to this through their background and experience. In the event of equal suitability, preference will be given to the candidate who thus enhances diversity within the Academy.


Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)


Your Profile

We are looking for an enthusiastic, societal engaged researcher at the start of theircareer, with
  • affinity with the forensic youthpopulation;
  • a research master in the field of cognitive neuroscience, medicine or behavioural sciences;
  • the ability to function well both in a team as well as independently, and possess good communication skills;
  • proven experience with statistics and statistical software, such as JASP and R;
  • fluent in Dutch and English. Because of the target population and your active role in recruitment of the cohort, only Dutch speaking candidates can apply;
  • experience with fMRI scanning is a plus
  • It is important that you are flexibly available, including evenings and weekends, given that we accommodate the needs of our participants. It goes without saying that these working hours are compensated during the week, as we strongly value a healthy work-life balance.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1 jaar.

Terms of employment

The appointment will initially be for 12 months and if evaluated positively extended with 3 years and must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis. The salary ranges from €2.541,- gross per month in the 1st year up to €3.247,- gross per month in the 4th year based on a fulltime employment in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities plus an additional holiday (8% of annual salary) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 % of annual salary). The preferred starting date is the 1st of September 2023.

The KNAW, of which the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience is a part, offers its staff an excellent package of secondary benefits. A package that meets the different needs of employees depending on their stage of life, lifestyle or career ambitions. For example, by working an extra two hours a week, it is possible to increase the number of days off from 29 to 41 days a year (with full-time employment). For a complete overview of the terms of employment, please refer to the web page: werken bij de KNAW.


Nederlands Herseninstituut

About the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience
The Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience is the country's leading fundamental neuroscience research institute, in the international and progressive city of Amsterdam. It provides a critical mass of scientists (spanning more than 27 nationalities) and neuroscience facilities, in a highly interactive, dynamic, multi-cultural environment, with English as the working language.


Mechanisms of Social Behavior

The Social Brain Lab at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience
This will be your main home, in which one of your direct supervisor will be working on a daily base and where you will be appointed.

The Social Brain Lab is the results of the joint venture of the research groups of Christian Keysers and Valeria Gazzola, aiming at shedding light on the neural mechanisms of empathy by combining studies in humans and rodents. The SBL is funded by multiple European (ERC, Marie Curie) and Dutch (VIDI, VICI, Gravity, XL) grants, and is characterized by an unusually diverse environment, with members from all over the world, backgrounds (ranging from philosophy to engineering with an emphasis on biology and psychology), and neuroscientific techniques (spanning from ultra-high field fMRI in humans to single-cell recordings in rodents). The SBL is appreciated for its collaborative, enthusiastic and supportive environment, where people strive to become successful, recognized and appreciated scientists.

The Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience is the country's leading fundamental neuroscience research institute, in the international and progressive city of Amsterdam. It provides a critical mass of scientists (spanning more than 27 nationalities) and neuroscience facilities, in a highly interactive, dynamic, multi-cultural environment, with English as the working language.

Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry & Psychosocial Care, at the Amsterdam UMC, within the Section Youth at Risk.
This will be your second home, where your co-supervisor will be located. You'll likely have periodic meetings with colleagues at this location.
Within the section Youth at Risk, we focus on children and adolescents at risk of displaying antisocial and delinquent behavior. We mainly operate within the field of Forensic Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Our main aim is to study why some children and adolescents display antisocial or delinquent behavior, why most desist and some persist in that behavior, and what (preventive) interventions are needed to help youth at risk to develop into adults that function well in our complex modern society.
The Spinoza Centre for Neuroimaging
This will be the fMRI facilities, where the data will be collected.
The Spinoza is a joint institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences, Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, VU University Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Medical Centers. The Centre houses a 3 Tesla and an ultra high-field 7 Tesla MRI-scanner.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1533


Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)

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