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    • Date Posted
      May 16,2021
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    PhD Tuning the senses: How cognition shapes sensation at the gate

    During this four-year PhD project, you will investigate how perception benefits from subtle changes to the senses. For example, your pupils dilate slightly when you get aroused or when you exert mental or physical effort. But why does this happen? Is arousal-related pupil dilation in some way beneficial to visual perception? And if so, how exactly? These questions are fundamental to our understanding of (visual) perception. You can read more about the theoretical underpinnings of this project in this review article (, written by the primary investigator of the project (Sebastiaan Mathôt).

    This PhD project is part of a larger project, based on an NWO VIDI grant, for which two PhD students and one post-doctoral researcher will be recruited. (The post-doc application will be advertised later.) In this larger project, we will make use of a combination of experimental techniques, including pupillometry, fMRI, EEG, tympanometry, and psychophysics. You will be responsible for developing and carrying out a subset of these experiments, analyzing the resulting data, and writing up the results as scientific manuscripts (which will also serve as chapters of the PhD thesis).

    An important part of this project will also be to actively engage with ‘open science’. This means that you will make all experimental scripts and data publicly available (to the extent possible given privacy restrictions), and that you will engage in good scientific practices such as preregistration and transparent reporting. In this spirit, you will be encouraged to also produce non-traditional forms of scientific output, such as data sets and software.


    We are looking for candidates who have:

    • an MSc in the area of psychology, neuroscience, or artificial intelligence.
    • experience with conducting research involving human participants.
    • experience with coding, ideally in Python.
    • a high degree of English proficiency.


    Since its founding in 1614, the University of Groningen has enjoyed an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative center of higher education, offering high-quality teaching and research. We encourage the 36,000 students and researchers to develop their own individual talents. Among the best research universities in Europe, we join forces with prestigious partner universities and networks around the world, the University of Groningen is truly an international place of knowledge.

    The Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences is a centre of knowledge focusing on individuals and society. The faculty studies issues relating to human behaviour, and the relationships between people and society as a whole. This includes the study of how people function under normal circumstances, but also of the problems encountered by individuals or groups, and how these can be resolved or prevented. The Department of Psychology is part of the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, and offers Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes in both Dutch and English to over 3,000 students.

    Conditions of employment

    We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

    • a gross salary of € 2,395 gross per month in the first year to a maximum of € 3,061 gross per month in the final year (salary scale PhD), based on a full-time position (1.0 FTE)
    • a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income
    • an 8.3% year-end bonus
    • a position for four years. Each successful candidate will first be offered a temporary posi-tion of one year with the option of renewal for another three years. Prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the contract period is to be expected. A PhD training programme is part of the agreement and the successful candidate will be enrolled in the Graduate School of the Faculty.
    The conditions of employment are available at the University of Groningen website under Human Resources:

    Starting date: sometime between 1 September 2021 and 1 August 2022.


    Do you meet our qualification criteria? If yes, your application should include (in a single PDF file):

    • a motivation letter stating your motivation to apply for the position and your key qualities relevant for this position (max 1 page)
    • a brief, up-to-date curriculum vitae that focuses on aspects that are directly relevant to the position
    • a complete record of Bachelor and Master courses (including grades)
    • contact information of two academic references. Please do not submit letters of reference. If necessary, we will contact the referees ourselves.

    You can apply for this position until 27 May 11:59 pm / before 28 may 2021 Dutch local time by means of the electronic application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

    Interviews will be held in weeks 24 and 25, 2021.

    We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our University. We are committed to building a diverse faculty so you are encouraged to apply. Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP), and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers,

    Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.


    For information you can contact:

    • Dr Sebastiaan Mathôt, s.mathot

    Please do not use the e-mail address(es) above for applications.

    Additional information

    • Additional information

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