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Online analysis of brain oscillations during infants’ social interactions

About This PhD Project

Project Description

For infants, observing and interacting with others is a crucial aspect of social development. This research project will increase our understanding of infants’ neural processing during social interactions. As a PhD student, you will investigate the infants’ neural mirroring system, the factors that enhance or diminish mirroring, and study the implications of these processes for imitation learning.

This PhD position is embedded in the SAPIENS project, a pan-European Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (EU Horizon 2020 Programme), in which 15 early-stage researchers investigate how the dynamics of early social exchanges support the development of the social brain. SAPIENS combines advances in ecological, mobile real-time brain and behaviour measurement, data modeling and artificial intelligence approaches to train a new generation of researchers in implementing these ground-breaking approaches to early social development.

You will be supervised by Prof. Sabine Hunnius and Dr. Robert Oostenveld and will be part of the BabyBRAIN group of the Donders Institute (DI). The BabyBRAIN group examines the developmental mechanisms and neurocognitive changes underlying early social-cognitive development (see The experimental work will be conducted at the Baby and Child Research Center (BRC) and the Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging. Methodological advancements will be implemented and disseminated as part of the FieldTrip data analysis toolbox. You will be based at Radboud University, but research visits are planned to collaborators at other research sites within the network (e.g. Birkbeck College, University of London and iMotions, Copenhagen).

Work environment

You will work in an interdisciplinary team of cognitive psychologists, developmental scientists and neuroscientists at the DI. The DI is a world-class interfaculty research centre, and houses more than 600 researchers devoted to understanding the mechanistic underpinnings of the human mind. It offers excellent research facilities, including a large infant lab ( and advanced EEG, eye movement registration and motion tracking labs. Furthermore, the DI is home to the world-leading EEG data analysis software (

Research in the DI is focused around four themes: (1) Language and communication; (2) Perception, action and control; (3) Plasticity and memory; and (4) Brain networks and neuronal communication. Recently, the DI was assessed by an international evaluation committee as excellent and recognized as a “very stimulating environment for top researchers, as well as for young talent”. The DI fosters a collaborative, multidisciplinary, supportive research environment with a diverse international staff. The lingua franca of the Institute is English. Radboud University offers a parental leave scheme and day care on campus.

What we expect from you

Preference will be given to candidates with an MSc in cognitive neuroscience, psychology, biomedical science, engineering science or a related field who are highly motivated to conduct challenging interdisciplinary research. You will have affinity with experimental psychology, neuroscience and/or neurotechnology. Demonstrable experience with techniques for quantitative data analysis and programming (e.g. MATLAB) is highly desirable. Due to the international and interdisciplinary nature of the research group, good collaborative and communication skills are essential.

What we have to offer

• employment: 1.0 FTE;
• the gross starting salary amounts to €2,325 per month, and will increase to €2,972 in the fourth year (p scale);
• in addition to the salary: an 8% holiday allowance and an 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
• term of contract: you will be appointed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years;
• UFO job profile: PhD Candidate;
• you will be able to make use of our Dual Career Service ( where our Dual Career Officer will assist with family related support, such as child care, and help your partner prepare for the local labour market and with finding an occupation.

Other Information

The intended start date is 1 September 2019. You will be part of the Donders Graduate School for Cognitive Neuroscience.

Are you interested?

You should upload your application (attn. of Prof. dr. Sabine Hunnius) exclusively using the button 'Apply' below. Your application should include (and be limited to) the following attachment(s):

• Motivation letter
• CV including contact information of two references
• Transcripts of grades

Due to the mobility requirements of Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions, you may not have resided in the Netherlands for more than 12 months during the past 3 years.

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