Universiteit Leiden

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Postdoc in Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience

Vacancy number
22-259 11465
Academic staff
Internal , External
Publication date
26 April 2022
Closing date
22 May 2022 Vacancy closed

The Cognitive Psychology Unit of the Institute of Psychology at Leiden University and the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC) are looking for a

Postdoc in Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience (1,00 FTE)  
Vacancy number 22-259 11465

Internal state fluctuations in brain and behavior
The way that neural computations give rise to behavior is shaped by ever-fluctuating internal states. These states (such as arousal, fear, stress, hunger, motivation, engagement, or drowsiness) are characterized by spontaneous neural dynamics that arise independent of task demands. Across subfields of neuroscience, internal states have been quantified using a variety of measurements and markers (based on physiology, brain activity or behavioral motifs), but these are rarely explicitly compared or integrated. It is thus unclear if such different state markers quantify the same, or even related underlying processes. Instead, the simplified concept of internal states likely obscures a multi-dimensional set of biologically relevant processes, which may affect behavior in distinct ways.
In this project, we will take an integrative approach to quantify the structure and dimensionality of internal states and their effects on decision-making behavior. We will apply several state-of-the-art methods to extract different markers of internal states from facial video data, pupillometry, and high-density neural recordings. We will then quantify the unique and shared dimensionality of internal states, and their relevance for predicting choice behavior. By combining existing, publicly available datasets in mice with additional experiments in humans, we will directly test the cross-species relevance of our findings. Lastly, we will investigate how internal states change over a range of timescales: from sub-second fluctuations relevant for choice behavior to the very slow changes that take place with aging.
This project is a collaboration between the Cognitive, Computational and Systems Neuroscience lab led by Dr. Anne Urai (daily supervisor) and the Temporal Attention Lab led by Prof. Sander Nieuwenhuis. We are based in Leiden University’s Cognitive Psychology Unit, and we participate in the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC), an interfaculty center for interdisciplinary research on brain and cognition ( https://www.libc-leiden.nl ). There are further options for collaborating with the International Brain Laboratory ( https://www.internationalbrainlab.com ).
Leiden is a small, friendly town near the beach, with great public transport connections to larger cities nearby. The Netherlands has excellent support for families. The working language at the university is English, and you can comfortably get by with only minimal knowledge of Dutch.
Our team is small, and we value a collegial and supportive environment. Open science is a core value in our work, and we actively pursue ways to make academia a better place. We support postdocs in developing their own ideas and research line, and we offer opportunities to gain small-scale teaching and grant writing experience. More information on our groups’ research interests, scientific vision and working environment can be found at https://anneurai.net, https://anne-urai.github.io/lab_wiki/Vision.html and https://www.temporalattentionlab.com 
If you like asking hard questions, making things work, and pursuing creative ideas in a collaborative team, then this position may be for you. Please do not be discouraged from applying if your current CV is not a ‘perfect fit’. This job could suit someone from a range of different career backgrounds, and there is great scope for the right applicant to develop the role and make it their own.
Key responsibilities
•    Analysis of neural and behavioral data;
•    Literature study;
•    Development and execution of new behavioral and neurophysiology studies;
•    Report results at conferences and in scientific journals;
•    Curate and share data and materials, following open science practices;
•    Supervise BSc and MSc thesis projects.
Selection criteria
•    PhD degree in neuroscience, computer science, cognitive psychology or a related field;
•    Experience or affinity with programming, data analysis and computational modeling;
•    Research, presenting and writing skills;
•    Independence and creativity.
Our organisation
The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences conducts high-quality research and offers a broad and disciplinary educational programme, focused on increasing our understanding of current developments in society. The faculty consists of five institutes: Centre for Science and Technology Studies, Cultural Anthropology and Developmental Sociology, Education and Child Studies, Political Science and Psychology. The faculty has approximately 7,000 students and 1025 staff members. For more information, please visit the website https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/social-behavioural-sciences.  

Terms and conditions
We offer a full-time, fixed-term post for 2 years, including a 2-month trial period. Preferred starting date is September 2022. Salary range from €3821 to €5230 gross per month on a full-time basis (pay scale 11, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. More at https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/working-at/job-application-procedure-and-employment-conditions.

Diversity and inclusion
Fostering an inclusive community is a central element of the values and vision of Leiden University. Leiden University is committed to becoming an inclusive community which enables all students and staff to feel valued and respected and to develop their full potential. Diversity in experiences and perspectives enriches our teaching and strengthens our research. High quality teaching and research is inclusive.

For inquiries, please contact Dr. Anne Urai at a.e.urai@fsw.leidenuniv.nl or Prof. Sander Nieuwenhuis at snieuwenhuis@fsw.leidenuniv.nl.

Please submit your application via the blue button in our application system (deadline: 22 May). Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Please include a letter of motivation and academic CV, including names of two references.
Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.

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