PhD Student

Last application date
Apr 04, 2021 00:00
PP02 - Department of Experimental Psychology
Limited duration
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description

We are looking for two full-time PhD student positions at Ghent University on the topics of cognitive control and reinforcement learning. Both are four-year positions (provided positive periodic evaluation), with possible starting dates depending on the project (see below). Salary is according to standard Belgian regulations for PhD students (starting at around €2000 per month net salary).​ Both positions will be at the Department of Experimental Psychology at Ghent University, which hosts several research groups on cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience, creating a dynamic research environment including regular internal talk series as well as presentations by invited speakers. The working language is English. We have access to a research-dedicated 3-tesla MR scanner (Siemens Prisma), an HPC cluster, multiple EEG systems, TMS, and eye-tracking devices. Ghent itself is a vibrant and creative student city with a lot to offer.

The first project is partially funded by an ERC Starting Grant project (CoCoFlex) on cognitive flexibility, and will focus on the nature and contextual determinants of exploration in reinforcement learning. For that purpose, we will develop computational models and experimental paradigms in which these models will be tested. The main supervisors for this project will be Senne Braem and Tom Verguts. However, broader collaborations are also possible and encouraged. The starting date of this project is flexible, but preferably not later than October 2021.

The second project will focus on how we form task representations and organize multiple task representations during multitasking or task switching. This project will explore how people can be guided by contextual features in their environment or their reinforcement learning history to decide what is their best strategy when learning new tasks. We will make use of both behavioral and functional magnetic resonance imaging studies, to study task performance and task representations in the brain using voxel pattern similarity analyses. The main supervisor for this project will be Senne Braem. However, broader collaborations are also possible and encouraged. The starting date of this project is October 2021 (or later, if necessary).

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Job profile

Candidates are expected to show a strong interest in cognitive science, but can have a Master’s degree (or equivalent) in many relevant domains such as Cognitive (Neuro)Science, Psychology, Computer Science, Statistics, Biology, or other relevant disciplines.

Expertise in computational modelling (for the first project) or neuroimaging (for the second project) is not required, but a strong interest in cognitive (neuro)science, modelling, data analysis, and computer programming are.

Applications from underrepresented groups are highly encouraged.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV (including two email addresses of academic referees) and a motivation letter (max. 2 pages) to Senne Braem ( or Tom Verguts (, or let us know if you want any further information about the project or details about the position.