PhD position in the Social Brain Lab

The Social Brain lab has an exciting opportunity for a PhD position in computational neuroscience financed by an ERC grant.
3 jaar


The Social Brain lab has an exciting opportunity for a PhD position in computational neuroscience financed by an ERC grant.

Project description and methods

The Social Brain Lab, has pioneered the investigation of the mechanisms of empathy by combining rodent and human research. We are currently looking for an ambitious PhD student that will lead the efforts to use behavioral and imaging data to study the link between embodied processes and social decision-making. You will use both pre- and newly acquired fMRI, EEG and EcoG data in combination with reinforcement learning computational modeling to reveal the circuits and processes linking embodied perception and other regarding choices, in particular when cost and benefits for self are in conflict with costs and benefits for others. This project will require a combination of advanced analytical and modeling skills together with creative social neuroscience experimentation. We therefore expect you to be a comparatively independent learner regarding the computational aspects of the project, leveraging our close collaborations with computation neuroscience groups as appropriate, while we guarantee our direct support in developing the necessary social neuroscience competences. By working within the SBL you will have the unique opportunity to collaborate with other members of the lab working with rodent models to bridge and integrate results from the two species, and thereby grow to become a highly successful scientist with a unique profile in the emergent field of social decision neuroscience.

We expect from you

  • Master in computational neuroscience or related fields.
  • High affinity and skills for data analysis
  • Highly motivated, energetic, detail orientated and capable to work and troubleshoot independently and collaboratively.
  • Interest in social behavior and empathy, and in translational research
  • Have excellent oral and written communication skills in English.

You should expect from us

  • Mentoring, supervision and training
  • Direct guidance and support toward the acquisition of your social neuroscience expertise
  • Co-supervision by close collaborators on developing and adapting cutting-edge Bayesian modeling algorithms
  • A stimulating international research environment


The Social Brain Lab, is the results of the joint venture of the research groups of Christian Keysers and Valeria Gazzola, aiming at shedding light on the neural mechanisms of empathy by combining studies in humans and rodents. The SBL is funded by multiple European (ERC, Marie Curie) and Dutch (VIDI, VICI) grants, and is characterized by an unusually diverse environment, with members from all over the world, backgrounds ranging from philosophy to engineering with an emphasis on biology and psychology, and neuroscientific techniques spamming from high field fMRI in humans to ultrasound imaging in rodents.

The Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience ( is the country’s leading fundamental neuroscience research institute, and is in close collaboration with the Spinoza Centre for Neuroimaging, which hosts both 3T and 7T scanners and relevant expertise. Both the PIs have an additional position at the University of Amsterdam, one of the top psychology departments in Europe. Together this provides a critical mass of experts in the most advanced neuroscience techniques, together with a dynamic multi-cultural environment. English is the working language of the research group, the institute and is extremely well spoken in the vibrant and international city of Amsterdam, creating an attractive, progressive and easy-to-integrate environment.

All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, age, protected veteran or status as disabled status, or genetic information.


The position is for a period of 3 years in total. The first appointment is for one year with the option for an extension for the remaining period pending on an evaluation.


The gross monthly salary is in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities; CAO NU), and for PhD students will range from €2395,- up to a maximum of €3061,- per month before tax. A 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% year-end bonus are excluded. We offer travel expenses, paid parental leave, flexible working hours, 30 days paid leave per year and help by finding a house.

Starting date

As soon as the ideal candidate is identified.

To apply

Applicants are welcomed to submit their application through (and only through) the online form at until 20 February, 2021. Do NOT use the respond button on top of this page. The online application will include four sections:
1) general information
2) education and research experience
3) research and personal skills
3) CV, motivation letter and recommendation letters.

For any encountered problems, or further information please email [email protected]

Evaluation of candidates will begin immediately, and after about 4 weeks from the deadline candidates will be informed whether they passed the first round or not. Shortlisted candidates will receive, taking into account candidates’ availability, an assignment to be done within 48h. Based on the results of the assignment, we will organize a 1h Zoom interview followed by a visit on site (if it will be allowed). We foresee a final decision to be communicated within three months after the first submission date. If no excellent candidate can be identified, we might re-advertise the position.

Any acquisition further to this advertisement will not be appreciated