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PhD Scholarship 'Cognitive neuroscience'

Category:  PhD

1 - Company profile

For almost 50 years, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel has stood for freedom, equality and connectedness. These values are strongly present on our campuses, in our students as well as our staff. At the VUB, you’ll find a diverse collection of personalities: pure innovators, but especially people who are 100% their authentic selves. With about 3,500 employees, we are the largest Flemish-speaking employer in Brussels, an international city with which we are all too happy to be affiliated and around which our four campuses are located.


Our education and research are grounded in the principles of free research with an eye on human progress. We disapprove of every purely authoritative argument and guarantee the free formation of judgement that is necessary for this basic principle to be incorporated in the community.


The VUB is autonomous and managed democratically. As such, we guarantee fundamental freedoms within our university, as well as the right of the university community to be involved in making and checking university policy.


The mission of the university includes:

  • the development, the transfer and the application of high-standing academic education and scientific research, free from any prejudice;
  • community integration of this in a spirit of social compassion;
  • critical development of everyone in light of the responsibilities borne in the community.
2 - Position description

The project focuses on the neural brain mechanisms underlying sequence learning, with a particular focus on the contribution of the cerebellum. 
Acquiring sensitivity about regularities in the environment is indispensable for human cognition. Examples from everyday life, like sequencing actions in driving and sports, or sequencing sounds in language and music, illustrate that serial organization is a core characteristic of human behavior. The process by which we acquire the knowledge to learn the correct order of successive actions in time is called sequence learning.

In this project, we will investigate the neural mechanisms underlying sequence learning. In particular, we will focus on the involvement of the cerebellum in the acquisition and automatization of sequential action in a computerized sequence learning task. The planned studies rely on behavioral reaction time experiments in healthy young adults in combination with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). 

Core activities:
The core of the PhD activities are the design and execution of the experimental studies and the dissemination of the research work via international journals and conferences. The PhD candidate will submit and defend a doctoral dissertation based on his/her research activities. The PhD candidate is additionally, but to a limited extent, involved in teaching assistance. 

3 - Profile
  • Diploma of master in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, or equivalent with an emphasis on experimental behavioral research; 


  • Profile: 
    • special interest in cognitive psychology 
    • excellent study results (at least the level of distinction)
    • willing to apply for external project funding (e.g. FWO) 
    • excellent mastery of the English language, written and orally
    • competent in quantitative research methodologies 
    • good statistical skills (in particular multivariate analyses); proficient in using statistical software packages (e.g. SPSS)
    • creative and critical thinker
    • analytic and inquiring mind
    • good communication and interpersonal skills   
    • able to work both independently and in team 


  • Assets: 
    • experience with fMRI data collection and analyses 
    • experience in the topic of the project 
    • experience with software packages for behavioral experiments (e.g. E-prime) 


  • You have not performed any works in the execution of a mandate as an assistant, paid from operating resources, over a total (cumulated) period of more than 12 months.
4 - Offer

Are you going to be our new colleague? 


You’ll be offered a full-time PhD-scholarship, for 12 months (extendable up to max. 48 months, on condition of the positive evaluation of the PhD activities), with planned starting date 01-02-2021


You’ll receive a grant linked to one of the scales set by the government. 


IMPORTANT: The effective result of the doctorate scholarship is subject to the condition precedent of enrolment of the fellow as a doctorate student at the university.


At the VUB, you’re guaranteed an open, involved and diverse workplace where you are offered opportunities to (further) build on your career. 


As well as this, you’ll enjoy various benefits: 

  • Full reimbursement for your home-work commute with public transport according to VUB-policy, or compensation if you come by bike; 
  • Cost-free hospitalisation insurance
  • The space to form your job content and continuously learn via VUB LRN; 
  • Excellent facilities for sport and exercise
  • Ecocheques;
  • Delicious meals at attractive prices in our campus restaurants;
  • An open, family-friendly work environment where attention is paid to work-life balance, and exceptional holiday arrangements with 35 days of leave (based on a fulltime contract).  
5 - Interested?

Is this the job you’ve been dreaming of? 


Send us ONLINE and at latest on 14-12-2020 your CV, letter of motivation and the highest degree you’ve attained (not applicable for VUB alumni). 


Do you have questions about the job content? Contact Prof. dr. Natacha Deroost/Prof. dr. Kris Baetens via / of +32(0)2-6292514 / +32(0)2-6292331).


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You can contact the person mentioned in the job description.