Two 4-year PhD positions in the cognitive neuroscience of proactive visual working memory

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Two 4-year PhD positions in the cognitive neuroscience of proactive visual working memory
  • University Graduate
Do you have a completed MSc degree in the field of Cognitive Neuroscience (or a related area), and would you like to pursue a PhD on an exciting research topic in a stimulating, multidisciplinary, and international academic environment? Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

FTE: 1

Job description

Two PhD positions are available within an exciting ERC-funded project on “Preparing memories for action: how visual working memories are sculpted by their anticipated use”, headed by Principal Investigator Freek van Ede. Successful candidates will be at the forefront of a promising new research group at the Institute for Brain and Behavior Amsterdam (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands). Positions will be for 4 years, and are fully funded. Intended starting date is 1 Sept 2020 (with some flexibility).

Projects are at the intersection of cognition, brain, and behavior – targeting the proactive, dynamic, and action-oriented nature of human working memory. Advertised positions will specifically address the anticipatory cognitive and neural mechanisms that prepare past vision for guiding future action – starting from the perspective that the primary purpose of visual working memory is not to “hold onto the past” but to “prepare for the future”. More detailed project descriptions will be made available to shortlisted candidates.

The PhD positions provide the opportunity to develop and conduct creative and rigorous research on underexplored aspects of the human mind, within a stimulating and committed research group. You will (learn to) innovate laboratory tasks to study and integrate central topics in human cognition, and you will (learn to) employ and develop state-of-the-art human electrophysiology (M/EEG, brain oscillations) and eye-tracking (micro-saccadic attentional biases) methods. Potential extensions to virtual-reality experiments are also envisioned. Resources for attending overseas conferences, and other training opportunities, will be available.

Successful candidates will become integrated in the Institute for Brain and Behavior Amsterdam, Department of Experimental and Applied Psychology, at the Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (the Netherlands). The host institute – and Amsterdam at large – provides a vibrant international atmosphere with a strong cognitive neuroscience community conducting world-class research, and with access to state-of-the-art facilities and ample opportunities for research support and collaboration. The lingua franca is English.

For publications by the Principal Investigator that are directly relevant to the ERC project see also:


  • A completed MSc degree in the field of Cognitive Neuroscience, or a related area
  • Prior research experience in one or more of the following topics provide an advantage: visual cognition, working memory, attention, anticipation, action, timing, micro-saccades, and/or alike
  • Adequate programming skills (in Matlab, Presentation, Python, Vizard, Unity, and/or alike)
  • Experience with M/EEG and EMG acquisition and analysis (preferred)
  • Experience with eye-tracking acquisition and analysis (preferred)
  • Creativity and a passion for research
  • Good scientific writing skills
  • Good command of the English language
  • Good communication skills and ability to work in an interdisciplinary team

An educational plan will be drafted that includes attendance to courses and (international) meetings. PhD positions also come with the opportunity to assist in some undergraduate teaching activities.

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,325 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €2,972 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP), contribution to commuting expenses
  • a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. And to be a university where personal education and societal involvement play a leading role. Where people from different disciplines and backgrounds work together on innovations and on generating new knowledge. Our teaching and research embrace the whole spectrum of science – from the humanities, the social sciences and the pure sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,500 students. We employ more than 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible, located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

Diversity is one of our university’s core values. We are an inclusive community, and we believe that diversity and international activities enhance the quality of education and research. We are always looking for people who can enhance diversity on our campus thanks to their background and experience.

Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences
The Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences focuses on the broad domain of behaviour and health. Our teaching and research programmes are devoted to current developments in society, from healthy aging to e-health, from juvenile crime to dealing with depression, from training for top athletes to social media as a teaching tool. We are unique in that we combine three academic disciplines: psychology, movement sciences and education.

Working at Behavioural and Movement Sciences means working in an ambitious organization that is characterized by an informal atmosphere and short lines of communication. Our faculty offers tremendous scope for personal development. We employ more than 600 staff members, and we are home to around 3,400 students.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until 10 May 2020

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Dr. Freek van Ede

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