PhD Position in Cognitive Neuroscience and Computer Vision
University of Amsterdam Informatics Institute

2 PhD positions in cognitive neuroscience and computer vision
Publication date 26 May 2020
Closing date 1 July 2020
Level of education Master's degree
Hours 38 hours per week
Salary indication €2,325 to €2,972 gross per month
Vacancy number 20-314

Have you ever wondered how you are able to understand the content of a photo in just a single glance? Or to look at your phone while walking on the street without bumping into parked cars or other people? We are seeking 2 PhD candidates who are interested in the computations underlying visual perception in the human brain, who like to bridge research insights developed in neuroscience, artificial intelligence and psychology. The candidates will be supervised by Dr Groen, Assistant professor at the Informatics Institute and affiliated with Brain and Cognition programme group at the Psychology Research Institute. Dr Groen performs interdisciplinary research at the interface of cognitive neuroscience and computer science aimed at understanding naturalistic perception in the human brain. A major research direction will be the automatic extraction of scene information such as the layout and navigational affordances of the visual environment.

The PhD projects will involve working with computational models of vision, including deep neural networks, as well as collection and analysis of human neuroimaging data. The following are examples of research questions to be addressed in the PhD projects:

  • How does the human brain extract information about action affordances, such as the presence of a navigable path, from visually presented images?
  • What kind of representations are learned by deep neural networks trained on different types of scene processing tasks?
  • How can we use deep networks and/or other computational models of vision to better understand the neural activation patterns that we measure in the human brain during perception?

What are you going to do?

You will be based at the Intelligent Sensory Information Systems Lab at the Institute of Informatics at the University of Amsterdam, working closely with the Department of Psychology for data collection and analysis. You will be working with a multidisciplinary team on the analysis of human behavioural (categorizations, decisions, reaction times) and neuroscience data recorded from human brains (EEG, fMRI, ECoG) using computational tools and models from machine learning and computer vision.

Your tasks will be to:

  • run experiments that involve collecting behavioral and neuroimaging data from human participants;
  • train and test deep network models of visual perception;
  • develop and apply statistical analysis methods to compare computational models to human data;
  • collaborate with other researchers within the lab and the institute;
  • complete and defend a PhD thesis within the official appointment duration of four years;
  • regularly present intermediate research results at international conferences and workshops, and publish them in proceedings and journals;
  • assist in relevant teaching activities.

What do we require?

  • A Master’s degree in Neuroscience, Cognitive Neuroscience, Psychology, Computational Science, Artificial Intelligence, or a related field;
  • a strong interest in computational modeling of perceptual processes;
  • a strong interest in, and preferably existing experience with, human neuroimaging data collection and analysis (e.g., fMRI or EEG);
  • a strong interest in computer vision and machine learning;
  • excellent programming skills, for example in Matlab, Python, or C/C++;
  • solid mathematics foundations, especially statistics and linear algebra;
  • a proactive and independent mindset;
  • strong communication, presentation and writing skills and excellent command of English.

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week preferably starting 1 October 2020 for the duration of 4 years (initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years) and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). You will get a customized Training and Supervision Plan, that will be evaluated every year. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduate and master students.

The salary will be €2,325 to €2,972 (scale P) gross per month, based on full-time employment (38 hours a week). These amounts are exclusive 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% end-of-year bonus. A favorable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Then find out more about working at the Faculty of Science.

About the Faculty of Science and the Informatics Institute 

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 6,500, as well as 1,600 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The mission of the Informatics Institute is to perform curiosity-driven and use-inspired fundamental research in Computer Science. The main research themes are Artificial Intelligence, Computational Science and Systems and Network Engineering. Our research involves complex information systems at large, with a focus on collaborative, data driven, computational and intelligent systems, all with a strong interactive component.

The PhD positions are embedded within the Intelligent Sensory Information Systems Group, one of the larger groups within the Informatics Institute working on visual recognition and retrieval, headed by Prof. Cees Snoek. Human subject data collection will take place at the Research Lab of the Psychology Research Institute. The lab will be part of the European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems (ELLIS), a European initiative focused on open research and close collaboration between basic academic research and industrial labs in artificial intelligence.


Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation? Please contact:

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

The Informatics Institute strives for a better gender balance in its staff. We therefore strongly encourage women to apply for this position.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 1 July 2020. You may apply online by using the button below.

Applications should include:

  • a motivation letter that motivates your choice for this position;
  • a curriculum vitae, including your list of publications if applicable;
  • a link to your Master’s thesis;
  • a complete record of Bachelor and Master courses (including grades and explanation of grading system);
  • a list of projects you have worked on (with brief descriptions of your contributions, max 2 pages);
  • the names and contact addresses of at least two academic references (please do not include any recommendation letters).


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