There is an opening for a fully-funded PhD position to work on the temporal dynamics of visual working memory at Utrecht University. The PhD student will work in the AttentionLab of Stefan Van der Stigchel, principal investigator of the European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator project HOMEOSTASIS and Professor in Cognitive Psychology at Utrecht University.

The HOMEOSTASIS project is motivated by the idea that visual working (VWM) should be studied in interaction with a dynamic outside world. Our environment challenges the visual memory system in many different ways: Task goals can change within hundreds of milliseconds requiring a rapid shift in prioritisation from one internal representation to another; external distraction can affect specific cognitive systems or brain regions, and can be either predictable or not; etc. In light of these challenges, the brain had to develop a fast and dynamic mechanism to make working memory a responsive and reliable system in various contexts.

Attentional control is hypothesised to play a central role in the flexible adjustment of working memory representations to the situation at hand. VWM and (internal) attention hence need to be intricately linked, and jointly allow for generating the internal representations of the outside world that are currently most useful to behaviour. To gain a theoretical and mechanistic understanding of how these internal representations subserve goal directed behaviour, however, we need to take into account how situational demands vary over time, across multiple timescales.

For one of the work packages, we are looking for a PhD student with a background in cognitive psychology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, or related. The PhD student will investigate the temporal dynamics of (internal) attention and the ensuing changes in internal memory representations using EEG. This will be done with the help of novel analysis techniques such as frequency tagging and time-resolved multivariate pattern analysis. The PhD student will become an integral part of Attentionlab in which a group of post-docs, PhD students, and research staff are working on related projects. The PhD student will participate in the education program of the Helmholtz research school.


We are looking for someone who:

  • holds (or nearly holds) a Masters in (Cognitive) Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience, Artificial Intelligence, or a related field;
  • takes a quantitative view of psychology and neuroscience;
  • has strong computer programming skills;
  • preferably (but not necessarily) has some prior experience in analysing time-series data (e.g. EEG or Eye-Tracking) or machine learning techniques (e.g. linear classifiers);
  • takes a practical approach to solving technical problems;
  • has excellent written and spoken English communication skills (no Dutch required);
  • is effective and efficient, able to work within a team, and able to think conceptually.


The initial appointment to the position will be made for a 1.0 FTE for one year that, with satisfactory completion, will result in an extension for an additional three years. The gross PhD salary begins at €2,541 gross per month for a full-time employment.

Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8 % and a year-end bonus of 8.3 % per year. We offer a pension scheme, collective insurance schemes and flexible employment conditions 

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 (multiple choice model). For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University 

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About the organisation

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University 

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, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability. Utrecht University has made it it’s goal to promote equality, diversity and inclusion 

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Utrecht is a young and vibrant city with a large academic population, around 30 minutes south of Amsterdam. It combines a beautiful old city center with a modern university. Utrecht has an excellent quality of life, with plenty of green space and a strong bicycle culture.

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences 

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 is one of the leading faculties in Europe providing research and academic teaching in interdisciplinary social science, cultural anthropology, educational sciences, pedagogical sciences, psychology, and sociology. More than 5,600 students are enrolled in a broad range of undergraduate and graduate programmes. The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences has some 850 faculty and staff members, all providing their individual contribution to the training and education of young talent and to the research into and finding solutions for scientific and societal issues.

Additional information

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Samson Chota 

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 via The PhD project will be supervised by Samson Chota, Surya Gayet, Leon Kenemans and Stefan van der Stigchel.


Full applications must be submitted through our online system by midnight (central European time) on September 7. Applications should contain: a cover letter describing your interest in this research, a cv, and contact information for two academics who can provide a letter of recommendation.

The application deadline is 7 September 2022.


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