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PhD candidate 'modelling brain connectivity in autism'

This four-year position is part of a research project on modelling brain connectivity in autism spectrum disorders with graph theory.

ongeveer een jaar geleden


Geert Grooteplein Zuid, Nijmegen, Gelderland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
36 uur


We invite applications for a PhD project in the field of cognitive neuroscience. This four-year position is part of a research project on modelling brain connectivity in autism spectrum disorders with graph theory. The project is supervised by Prof. Jan Buitelaar at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and Department of Cognitive Neuroscience of the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, and Prof. Alex Fornito of the Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences, Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and funded by a Radboud internal grant to Jan Buitelaar and Alex Fornito.

Project description
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has been conceptualized as a disorder of brain connectivity, but the research published to date has been limited by small sample sizes, and inconsistent findings with regard to: 1) whether patients show “overconnectivity” versus “underconnectivity” relative to healthy controls; 2) whether atypical connectivity occurs in local or global neural systems; 3) how abnormal connectivity develops with age in ASD; 4) how task-related and resting-state based connectivity changes are related in the same individuals; 5) what the individual variation within ASD is with regard to abnormal connectivity.

The PhD candidate will apply graph theoretic methods to functional MRI data of a large existing cohort and integrate these findings with behavioral and clinical information. We will use existing data of the EU-AIMS Project. This is a multi-centre study including 430 individuals with ASD from 6-30 years and 300 individuals with typical development. Each participant is characterised in terms of clinical symptoms of ASD, comorbidities, and neurocognition. The MRI protocol includes a high-resolution structural scan, DTI, resting state and cognitive activation paradigms tapping theory of mind, reward anticipation, emotional processing and inhibitory control. By leveraging this multi-disciplinary approach, the project will generate novel insights into the dysfunction of the brain in ASD and provide a context for developing and testing new stratification markers.

For at least part of the project, the candidate will work at Monash University in Melbourne.

The candidate is expected to prepare, submit and published the results of the project in a series of peer-reviewed papers and synthesize the work in a PhD thesis to be defended at Radboud University in Nijmegen.


Ideal candidates will have:

  • A Master’s degree in cognitive neuroscience or an adjacent field (psychological, biological, biomedical, or computer sciences);
  • Experience in MRI design, acquisition, and analyses, including the use of Matlab;
  • The capacity to participate in an interdisciplinary and translational research environment;
  • Have interpersonal and communication skills to effectively collaborate and communicate in academia;
  • A proactive and goal-directed attitude and good organizational skills;
  • Fluency in written and spoken English;
  • You recognise yourself in the Radboud way of working.


The start date for this position is between April 1, and September 1, 2018.
Scale 10A: max. € 40814 gross income per year at full employment (incl. vacation bonus and end of year payments).

Upon commencement of employment we require a certificate of conduct (Verklaring Omtrent het Gedrag, VOG) and there will be a screening based on the provided CV. Radboud university medical center’s HR Department will apply for this certificate on your behalf.

Read more about the Radboudumc employment conditions.

Additional information

All additional information about the vacancy can be obtained from Prof. Jan Buitelaar, full professor or Prof. Alex Fornito, professor or Cognitive Neuroscience, Monash University, Melbourne. Use the Apply button to submit your application.


Radboudumc strives to be a leading developer of sustainable, innovative and affordable healthcare to improve the health and wellbeing of people and society in the Netherlands and beyond. This is the core of our mission: To have a significant impact on healthcare. To get a better picture of what this entails, check out our strategy film.

Our key strength is medical life-sciences and clinical practice, with an impressive infrastructure comprising state-of-the-art technology platforms and (translational) research facilities. The Radboudumc is therefore uniquely positioned in the emerging Euregio and Dutch healthcare infrastructure to play a leading role in the new healthcare paradigm of prediction, prevention and personalised medicine.

The Radboudumc focuses on scientific health challenges of today, with an eye on emerging diseases of the future.

Read more about what it means to work at radboudumc and how you can do your part.

Research environment
The project is embedded in the unique and excellent infrastructure of the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour. The Donders Institute offers three 3 Tesla MRI systems, MR-compatible systems for recording EEG and peripheral psychophysiological measures, access to a 7 T MRI system in Germany, a 275-channel MEG system, an EEG-TMS laboratory, and state-of-the-art computational facilities. In addition, the Donders Institute provides access to patient populations, and the Translational Neuroscience Unit with state-of-the-art facilities for anatomy, molecular, and neurophysiological research with non-human animals. All facilities are fully research-dedicated laboratories with excellent technical support.

The Donders Institute furthermore provides a unique and stimulating learning environment for young researchers, including a high-profile graduate school and in-house methodological expert courses. Research into memory, emotions, and stress-related disorders are an important focus area at Radboud university medical center. Researchers working on this theme jointly organize regular discussion meetings and lectures to promote integration of research conducted within molecular, cellular, systems, behavioral, and clinical neurosciences across campus.

The Monash School of Psychological Sciences is ranked among the best in the world. Through excellence in teaching, research, and research training, our School’s vision is to discover the neurobiological and psychological basis of cognition, emotive and mental disorders across the lifespan and to develop innovative evidence-based clinical programs to address the major societal challenges posed by these disorders. Our education programs provide students with a strong foundation across a range of interdisciplinary fields of psychology, neurology, molecular genetics, statistics, and computational neuroscience.

Housed within the School of Psychological Sciences, the Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences(MICCN)is a world-leading institute dedicated to making significant contributions to basic and translational research, clinical care, and research training in neuroscience. Since its establishment in 2015, MICCN has brought together internationally renowned neuroscientists to develop integrated models of human disease that cover traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, neurodegeneration, mental health and neurodevelopmental disorders. The Institute represents the largest grouping of cognitive and clinical neuroscientists in Australia and Asia Pacific, and is closely aligned with the Monash Biomedical Imaging, which houses research-dedicated brain imaging (MRI, EEG, PET) and stimulation (TMS) technology.