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  3. PhD Candidate in Computational Neuroscience: Network Plasticity in Somatosensory Processing

PhD Candidate in Computational Neuroscience: Network Plasticity in Somatosensory Processing

The Biophysics of Neural Computation group led by Fleur Zeldenrust is looking for a PhD candidate to investigate the relation between single neuron properties …

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Arbeidsvoorwaarden

Standplaats:
Houtlaan, Nijmegen, Gelderland
Dienstverband:
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
32 - 40 uur
Salarisindicatie:
€ 3061 - € 3061 per maand
Opleidingsniveau:
WO

Functieomschrijving

The Biophysics of Neural Computation group led by Fleur Zeldenrust is looking for a PhD candidate to investigate the relation between single neuron properties and neural network function using neural network models.

You will use simulation experiments to investigate synaptic plasticity in the mouse somatosensory cortex upon sensory deprivation. You will also look whether the changes in the underlying network affect the accuracy and efficiency of information processing.

Cortical networks are not static, but change constantly in response to experience. Particularly in response to strong interventions, networks re-organise themselves so that neurons representing sensory stimuli that are no longer available get 'taken over' by neighbouring areas. Whisker deprivation experiments, in which rodent whiskers are plucked or trimmed, show that the part of the rodent brain that processes information from the whiskers ('the barrel cortex') is extensively reorganised as a result of the sensory deprivation of the parts of the barrel cortex that normally respond to the plucked or trimmed whiskers. The exact changes in network connectivity are now being unravelled, but it is likely that different connectivity patterns could explain the same experimental results. Moreover, because the underlying network changes are not known, it remains unclear whether these changes improve the information processing: are the representations of the sensory stimuli in the new situation more accurate and/or more efficient? In this project, you will simulate the whisker deprivation experiments, using a biophysical model of the barrel cortex. You will investigate what connectivity changes, both within and between columns (representing single whiskers), can explain the experimental findings. You will cooperate with Rena Bakhshi and Dafne van Kuppevelt from the Netherlands eScience Center for model validation techniques. Next, you will analyse which of these connectivity patterns show an increase, decrease or no change in the mutual information between input and neural activity.

Please note that the EU Mobility Rule will be applied: PhD candidates must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date. Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays, and time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention, are not taken into account.

Functie-eisen

  • A (research) MSc degree in a quantitative field (computer science, engineering, physics, mathematics, etc.).
  • Expertise in neuroscience or an interest in acquiring it.
  • Experience with scientific programming or an interest in learning it (Python, Matlab or other).
  • Enthusiasm and the ability to work in a multidisciplinary environment.
  • Excellent communication skills in spoken and written English.

Conditions

  • Employment: 32 - 40 hours per week.
  • The gross starting salary amounts to €2,395 per month, and will increase to €3,061 in the fourth year (p scale).
  • In addition to the salary: an 8% holiday allowance and an 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
  • Duration of the 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 (4 year contract) or 3.5 years (5 year contract).
  • Your education task may be up to 10% of your appointment.
  • The intended start date is 1 March 2021.
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Care Services. Our Dual Career and Family Care Officer can assist you with family-related support, help your partner or spouse prepare for the local labour market, provide customized support in their search for employment and help your family settle in Nijmegen.
  • Have a look at our excellent employment conditions. They include a good work-life balance (among other things because of the excellent leave arrangements), opportunities for development and a great pension scheme.

Additional information

For more information about this vacancy, please contact:
Fleur Zeldenrust, Coordinator SmartNets, Head Biophysics of Neural Computation group
Tel.: +31 24 365 3195
Email: f.zeldenrust@donders.ru.nl

Tansu Celikel, head Department of Neurophysiology and chair of Donders Institute
Tel.: +31 24 365 2360
Email: t.celikel@science.ru.nl

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