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The role of real-world statistics in the representation of scene parts and objects

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  • Full or part time
    Dr D Kaiser
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Position Details
Applications are being welcomed for a funded PhD programme in Psychology at the University of York. The successful candidate will be hosted in the Department of Psychology under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Kaiser. The position starts on 23rd September 1st, 2019 and will be fully funded.

The department of Psychology is among the world’s top psychology departments, excelling in both teaching and research. We pride ourselves in providing a supportive and vibrant learning environment, which offers our students every opportunity to meet their personal development goals.

Project Background
Perceiving natural environments is a challenging task for the human visual system. Almost any natural scene, such as our workplace or living room, contains dozens of separable objects that need to be perceived simultaneously. How does the visual brain achieve efficient perception of such complex scenes?

This research project focuses on how the natural scene structure contributes to efficient scene and object perception. A key question therein concerns how the typical arrangements of objects across a scene (e.g., the typical arrangement of objects across our office workspace) allows the visual system to represent multiple simultaneous objects in smart ways.

To answer this question, the project will use a variety of research methods, including experimental psychophysics, EEG recordings, fMRI-based neuroimaging, and deep neural network modeling. By combining these methods, it aims at a multi-faceted characterization of how the visual brain represents visual content, such as objects and scenes in accordance with real-world statistics.

PhD position
The PhD candidate will focus on the role of real-world statistics in the representation of scene parts and objects.

The key question of the PhD project will be whether visual object representations are entwined with the object’s role in the environment. For instance, do object representations in visual cortex contain information about an object’s typical position in the world (e.g., appearing in the sky or on the ground), and is this information related to what we typically do with the object (e.g., whether we can grasp the object or not)?

The experiments will follow well-defined objectives, which are based on a currently running research grant.

The PhD candidate will be responsible for all aspects of the research project, that is for designing experiments, conducting behavioral and neuroimaging experiments, data analysis, and dissemination of results.

Over the course of the PhD, the candidate is encouraged to contribute to the research program by formulating complementary research questions that he or she can pursue in addition to the proposed project.


Essential requirements:
Minimal requirement a 2.1 BSc (Hons) or equivalent degree in psychology, (cognitive) neuroscience, or a related discipline
Solid knowledge of statistical methods
Experience with empirical work in psychology and/or (cognitive) neuroscience
High motivation and strong interest in the topics of visual neuroscience and naturalistic perception
Strong writing and communication skills

Desirable requirements:
Knowledge in Matlab coding (or a related language)
Experience in running EEG or fMRI experiments
Training or practical experience in EEG and/or fMRI analysis
Knowledge of advanced neuroimaging analysis techniques (multivariate decoding, representational similarity analysis, deep neural network models)

Funding Notes

The position is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Candidates will receive a stipend of approximately £14,000 per year and the scholarship includes a fee waiver. Further details will be confirmed in due course.

Candidates should initially show interest by contacting Dr. Daniel Kaiser on [[Email Address Removed]] prior to sending a full application. If after contacting Dr Kaiser a candidate wishes to pursue an application, complete the application process on the University of York website via the provided link.

Deadline for applications is on July 31st 2019 with interviews to be held shortly after the application deadline.


For further information and recent publications on the topic, please check out Dr. Kaiser’s webpage (

Related Subjects

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FTE Category A staff submitted: 24.90

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