PhD student and/or research assistant with Brain & Cognition

Updated: about 2 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 25 Nov 2021

Within the research project “Cognitive control in an aging society”, you will prepare a PhD on the impact of healthy and pathological aging on the exertion of cognitive control. We live in an aging society, which is accompanied by increasing challenges at the individual, interpersonal, clinical, and societal level. The aging challenge also consists of a rise in the number of older adults suffering from neurological disorders such as stroke. At the same time, our world is also becoming increasingly more complex as we are continuously bombarded with sensory input. To reach our goals, efficient and flexible cognitive skills, such as cognitive control, are required. More specifically, our cognitive system needs to selectively process relevant input, maintain this input and inhibit irrelevant input, to achieve our goals. However, precisely these cognitive control skills gradually deteriorate with age and can suddenly be affected after stroke. As pharmacological treatments for cognitive decline have limited efficacy, there is an urgent need for non-pharmacological methods to address cognitive impairment. This project specifically aims to unravel the behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying impairment in cognitive control in healthy older adults and stroke survivors. To achieve this, four objectives are formulated. First, we will pinpoint which, when and how cognitive control functions decline in healthy aging. Second, we will expose neural markers and networks of cognitive control decline in healthy aging. Third, we will unravel patterns of stroke-induced cognitive control deficits in stroke survivors. Fourth, we will map the lesion neuroanatomy of post-stroke cognitive control deficits at the network level. To reach these objectives, we propose a multi-method approach, combining cross-sectional, longitudinal and patient studies, behavioral and neuroimaging (EEG and fMRI) techniques and advanced statistical tools (structural equation modelling, network and connectivity analyses). Ultimately, this project will provide the basis for developing new, non-pharmacological intervention programs to delay, decelerate or decrease cognitive control impairment. We are therefore looking for one or two PhD students and/or a research assistant for this project.Next to the PhD research, the PhD student will spend 10% of their time on teaching assignments (practical sessions, exam support, student guidance, etc.). 

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