It is still largely a mystery how collections of neurons give rise to conscious perception. By now we have some idea of the brain systems involved, but the neural mechanisms and ensemble interactions correlated to perception remain unresolved. In the current project we will investigate how neural ensembles in multiple brain areas respond to visual images, and which types of transmitter receptor in these areas are important for perceptual discrimination. Specifically, we will focus on the interaction between sensory and memory systems in this project. To this end, we will apply multi-area ensemble recordings combined with neuroopharmacology in freely behaving rodents. At a later stage of the project, results will be used to design new computational models of perceptual discrimination. The project will be conducted as part of the UvA’s research priority program Brain and Cognition, in a multidisciplinary collaboration combining psychological, neurobiological, neuroimaging and image-processing research


* A Master of Science degree in Neuroscience or Cognitive Neuroscience (or equivalent)
* Experience with experimental neurophysiology, animal behaviour and computer programming
* Affinity with computational modelling and data analysis techniques
* Ability to work in a team and also independently
* Interest in perception, consciousness, learning and memory

We Offer: The full-time appointment will be on a temporary basis for a maximum period of four years (18 months plus a further 30 months after a positive evaluation) and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). An educational plan will be drafted that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. The PhD student is also expected to assist in teaching of undergraduates.

Based on a full-time appointment (38 hours per week) the gross monthly salary will range from €2042 in the first year and €2612 in the final year, according to the Dutch salary scales for PhD students. The collective employment agreement (CAO) of Dutch universities is applicable.

About Department: The Faculty of Science at the UvA is one of Europe’s foremost institutions of higher education and research in its chosen fields of specialization. It plays an active role in international science networks and collaborates with universities and industry. The Faculty has approximately 2,500 students and 1,500 staff members spread over 4 departments and 10 research institutes. Each institute has its own research programme, a substantial part of which is externally funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), the Dutch government, the EU and various private enterprises.

In March 2009, a large part of the Faculty moved to new premises in the Science Park Amsterdam; the entire Faculty will be located there by the end of 2010. The move will make the Park one of the largest centres of academic research in the Netherlands.

The Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS) is the Faculty’s largest institute. Its approximately 200 scientists and staff members work in 11 research groups that perform excellent research centered on four themes: 1) The Living Cell, 2) Plant Signaling, 3) Neuroscience, and 4) Life Science Technologies.

Contact: Project information can be obtained from Prof. Cyriel Pennartz (; +31-20-5257618).

Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences
Center for Neuroscience

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