PhD candidate 'Laminar fMRI of Cognitive Dopamine Function'

  • WO
  • Tijdelijk
Radboud University Medical Center (Radboudumc)


We are looking for a PhD student with an interest in the neuroscience and psychopharmacology of human cognition. The goal of the project is to advance our understanding of the brain mechanisms of cognitive control and working memory. Such processes implicate brain dopamine in corticostriatal circuitry, but the mechanisms by which dopamine modulates the cognitive control of working memory are unknown. This project aims to test specific hypotheses about how this happens, grounded in knowledge about the anatomy of the basal ganglia, feedforward and feedback flow of information between different cortical layers in prefrontal cortex and about the layer specificity of dopamine receptor distributions.

Psychopharmacology will be combined with ultrahigh-resolution fMRI for measuring effects of dopamine drugs at submillimeter scale, distinguishing neuronal activity within the different layers of the prefrontal cortex in humans. You will be involved in designing critical pharmacological fMRI experiments to isolate computations related to the control of working memory and their modulation by dopaminergic drugs. You will also be involved in collection and, most notably, analysis of 7T fMRI data at laminar resolution to examine layer-specific neural activity modulation.

You will be embedded in the research group of Roshan Cools at the Donders Institute, Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging and work closely with the groups of David Norris and Floris de Lange. In addition, there will be an opportunity to collaborate closely with key international players in the field of computational neuroscience of dopamine function, including Michael Frank.

You are expected to have the background knowledge, skills and motivation that will allow you to fully exploit and learn from the rich research environment that the Donders Institute provides (including its intellectual and technical infrastructure). You are motivated to develop into an independent scholar and scientist of the brain mechanisms of human cognitive control, who is ready to acquire the skills required for conducting all phases of pharmacological high-field fMRI research, including conceptual and experimental design, coordination of study logistics, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation and publication. You are also expected to be a team player, working closely with multiple research group leaders, pharmacy, postdocs, fellows PhD students, research assistants and research master students.


You have a passion for mechanistic research at the border between neuroimaging, cognitive science, and psychopharmacology. You are curious, ambitious, and can work independently. Your English is fluent in speaking and writing at an academic level. Speaking Dutch is not required for this position.

You also meet the following requirements:
  • You hold or have finished and nearly obtained) and research master degree in the field of neuroscience, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, technical medicine, or biomedical sciences, or a related field.
  • You have experience and skills in neuroimaging (functional and structural MRI).
  • You have experience with, or are interested in, computational and statistical modelling.
  • You have strong communication and coordination skills.


A position is available within the Motivational and Cognitive Control Lab, which is based at the Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging, part of the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour. The appointment will be at the Department of Psychiatry of the Radboudumc. The research groups of Floris de Lange and David Norris are also located at the Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging, which is part of the campus-wide Donders Institute.

The Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour is a world-class interfaculty research centre that houses more than 700 researchers devoted to understanding the mechanistic underpinnings of the human brain. Excellent, state-of-the-art research facilities are available for the broad range of neuroscience research that is being conducted at the Donders Institute. The Donders Institute fosters a collaborative, multidisciplinary, supportive research environment with a diverse international staff. English is the lingua franca at the Institute.

The mission of the Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (DCCN) is to conduct cutting-edge fundamental research in cognitive neuroscience. Our internationally renowned centre currently hosts more than 100 PhD candidates and postdoctoral researchers from more than 25 countries, offering a stimulating and multidisciplinary research environment. The centre is equipped with four MRI scanners (7T, 3x 3T), a 275-channel MEG system, an EEG-TMS laboratory, several (MR-compatible) EEG systems, and high-performance computational facilities.

Our internationally renowned centre currently hosts more than 100 PhD candidates and postdoctoral researchers from more than 25 countries, offering a stimulating and multidisciplinary research environment.

The Motivational and Cognitive Control Lab is headed by Prof. Roshan Cools. Our aim is to elucidate the mental processes, computations, and neural mechanisms that enable and motivate us to act in accordance with our goals. We approach this question by combining psychopharmacology, functional MRI, neurochemical PET and computational cognitive modeling of behavior of human volunteers with and without neuropsychiatric problems.

Radboud university medical center is a university medical center for patient care, scientific research, and education in Nijmegen. Radboud university medical center strives to be at the forefront of shaping the healthcare of the future. We do this in a person-centered and innovative way, and in close collaboration with our network. We want to have a significant impact on healthcare. We want to improve with each passing day, continuously working towards better healthcare, research, and education. And gaining a better understanding of how diseases arise and how we can prevent, treat, and cure them, day in and day out. This way, every patient always receives the best healthcare, now and in the future. Because that is why we do what we do.

Read more about our strategy and what working at Radboud university medical center means. Our colleagues would be happy to tell you about it. #weareradboudumc


Working at Radboud university medical center means that you are ahead of the curve and working together on the healthcare of the future. And there is more. Our secondary terms of employment are impressive. These are fully tailored to you thanks to our Employment Conditions Selection Model. At Radboud university medical center, you will be given trust, and you will take the responsibility to handle everything together. We provide annual courses, both professional and personal.
  • A gross monthly salary between € 2.631 and € 3.336 (scale 10A) based on full-time employment.
  • An annual vacation allowance of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%.
  • If you work irregular hours, you will receive an allowance.
  • As a full-time employee (36 hours per week), you are entitled to approximately 168 vacation hours (over 23 days) per year.
  • Radboud university medical center pays 70% of the pension premium. You pay the rest of the premium with your gross salary.
  • You get a discount on health insurance as well: you can take advantage of two group health insurance plans. UMC Zorgverzekering and CZ collectief.
In addition to our terms of employment, we also offer employees various other attractive facilities, such as childcare and sports facilities. Want to learn more? Take a look at the Cao UMC.

Meer informatie

Any questions? Please contact Dr. Roshan Cools, principle investigator. Use the Apply button to submit your application.