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Postdoctoral Position in Dutch Research Consortium 'Language in Interaction'

Donders Institute, Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging
Maximum salary: € 4,757 gross/month
Vacancy number: 30.01.18
Application deadline: 22 April 2018


We are currently recruiting for a 3.5-year postdoctoral researcher position in the field of machine learning.
The goal of this project “New Advances in Neural Networks for Coding of Neural Representations” is to advance the state of the art in both encoding and decoding of linguistic and semantic representations using advanced neural network architectures. To this end, we build on and significantly expand on research in this field conducted in the Artificial Cognitive Systems lab (see You will be part of our “Big Question 1” (see, a team science endeavour within the Language in Interaction Research Consortium to develop computational models of the mental lexicon from linguistic, psychological and neuroscience perspectives.
Your responsibility will be to develop a general computational framework for encoding and decoding neural representations. The framework will make extensive use of state-of-the-art neural networks and other machine-learning techniques, which you will develop throughout this project. The models to be developed will be based on novel and efficient deep, generative and/or recurrent neural network architectures that aim to capture biologically plausible human cognitive processing at an unprecedented level of detail. You will help develop this new research line and assist in teaching and supervising Master’s and PhD students in the ACS lab. The position also includes a small number of organisational and administrative tasks within Big Question 1 and the larger consortium.
This position provides an opportunity to conduct world-class research as a key member of an interdisciplinary team operating at the interface between artificial intelligence and cognitive neuroscience.

Work environment

The Netherlands has an outstanding track record in the language sciences. The Language in Interaction research consortium, which is sponsored by a large grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific research (NWO), brings together many of the excellent research groups in the Netherlands in a research programme on the foundations of language. In addition to excellence in the domain of language and related relevant fields of cognition, our consortium provides state-of-the-art research facilities and a research team with ample experience in the complex research methods that will be invoked to address the scientific questions at the highest level of methodological sophistication. These include methods from genetics, neuroimaging, computational modelling, and patient-related research. This consortium realises both quality and critical mass for studying human language at a scale not easily found anywhere else.
We have identified five Big Questions (BQ) that are central to our understanding of the human language faculty. These questions are interrelated at multiple levels. Teams of researchers will collaborate to collectively address these key questions of our field.
Our five Big Questions are:
BQ1: The nature of the mental lexicon: How to bridge neurobiology and psycholinguistic theory by computational modelling?
BQ2: What are the characteristics and consequences of internal brain organisation for language?
BQ3: Creating a shared cognitive space: How is language grounded in and shaped by communicative settings of interacting people?
BQ4: Variability in language processing and in language learning: Why does the ability to learn language change with age? How can we characterise and map individual language skills in relation to the population distribution?
BQ5: How are other cognitive systems shaped by the presence of a language system in humans?
You will be appointed at the Donders Institute, Centre for Cognition (Radboud University, Nijmegen). The project is embedded in the Donders Institute’s research theme ‘Brain Networks and Neuronal Communication’ and will be supervised by Prof. Marcel van Gerven. The research is conducted in an international setting at all participating institutions. English is the lingua franca.

What we expect from you

We are looking for a highly motivated candidate with a PhD degree in Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, Applied Mathematics, Computational Neuroscience, or a related field of study.

  • Excellent math and Python programming skills as well as research experience in modern neural networks and probabilistic machine learning approaches are required.
  • Experience in cognitive neuroscience, computational neuroscience and natural language processing is desirable but not a prerequisite.
  • You are committed to the development of new advanced neural network architectures and their dissemination via high-quality Python code.
  • You should have an excellent scientific track record, excellent organisational, and communication skills, a strong motivation, and high proficiency in written and spoken English.

Applications from excellent candidates with a less than ideal profile will be equally considered.

What we have to offer

  • employment: 1.0 FTE;
  • a maximum gross monthly salary of € 4,757 based on a 38-hour working week (salary scale 11);
  • in addition to the salary: an 8% holiday allowance and an 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • the starting salary depends on qualifications and experience;
  • you will be appointed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 24 months;
  • the Collective Labour Agreement (CAO) of Dutch Universities is applicable to this position;
  • you will be classified as a Researcher, level 3, as described in the Dutch university job-ranking system (UFO);
  • the institute involved has regulations in place that enable its staff to create a good work-life balance;
  • you will be able to make use of our Dual Career Service where our Dual Career Officer will assist with family related support, such as child care, and help your partner prepare for the local labour market and with finding an occupation.

Are you interested in our excellent employment conditions?

Other Information

The institute involved is an equal opportunity employer, committed to building a culturally diverse intellectual community, and as such encourages applications from women and minorities.

Would you like to know more?

Further information on: the Language in Interaction Consortium
Further information on: Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour

For more information about this vacancy, please contact:
Prof. dr. M.A.J. van Gerven, Principal Investigator Artificial Cognitive Systems
Telephone: +31 24 3655931

Dr. S.L. Frank; Assistant Professor, Big Question 1 coordinator
Telephone: +31 24 3615491

Are you interested?

You should upload your application (attn. of Dr. M.A.J. van Gerven) exclusively via the 'Apply' button on the Radboud vacancy page (see link below). Your application should include (and be limited to) the following attachment(s):

  • a cover letter
  • your curriculum vitae, including a list of publications and the names of at least two people who can provide references

Please apply before 22 April, 2018 23:59 CET via the following website:

Last checked 2018-03-26 by Carolin Lorenz
About MPI

This is the MPI

The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

The institute is situated on the campus of the Radboud University. We participate in the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and have particularly close ties to that institute's Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging. We also participate in the Centre for Language Studies. A joint graduate school, the IMPRS in Language Sciences, links the Donders Institute, the CLS and the MPI.


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