PhD Candidate: How Predictions Shape Information Processing Across the Adult Lifespan at the Donders Center for Cognition

Updated: 2 months ago
Deadline: 28 Nov 2021

Aging is associated with declining memory and attention span as well as abstract reasoning. Nevertheless, older people are the ones who take the most important decisions. So, is our image of aging correct? To find out, we are looking for a highly motivated PhD Candidate. You will research the role of older people’s prior knowledge and life experience in the processing of new information.

The department of Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the Donders Centre for Cognition (DCC) is looking to recruit a highly motivated PhD candidate for a new project on how predictions shape information processing across the adult lifespan. This position is part of an NWO Vidi-funded project aimed at understanding how knowledge drives information processing in the aging brain. 

The subtle age-related differences in cognition in real life are in stark contrast to the substantial declines in cognition observed in laboratory experiments. This is because older adults can rely on a tremendous amount of prior knowledge and experiences in real life that are typically irrelevant in lab settings. This project investigates the neural mechanisms that allow older adults to effectively rely on prior knowledge to support cognition in real-life-like situations. In particular, we expect that prior knowledge allows older adults to rely more on predictions. The aim of the project is to investigate the effects of aging on predictive signals and the extent to which these predictions shape perception across the lifespan.

To do this, we will measure brain activity while participants across the adult lifespan experience naturalistic stimuli, such as audiobooks. To investigate predictive brain signals and how these predictions alter perception, state-of-the-art machine learning methods will be used.

Your primary responsibilities will be designing experiments to acquire a large MEG dataset and analysing these data with novel and sophisticated methods. You will supervise a research assistant who will assist with data collection. You will also be responsible for disseminating your research output in the form of high-impact papers and well curated datasets.

Mentoring BSc and MSc students and teaching related tasks will also be part of your responsibilities. These educational tasks may comprise up to 10% of your appointment.

We offer you a full-time (100% or 80%) position for 4 or 5 years. This project is supervised by Linda Geerligs, Umut Güçlü and Marcel van Gerven. You will be employed at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour where you will have the opportunity to collaborate and interact with renowned experts in the fields of artificial intelligence, psychology and cognitive neuroscience. You will also benefit from the extensive training programme offered by the Donders Graduate School. Additionally, you may be expected to supervise BSc and MSc students during their thesis projects.

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