Postdoc Position

"Understanding the nature of the mental lexicon"

Vacancy number: 30.05.19
Application deadline: 05 May 2019, 23:59 CET

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We are currently recruiting for a 3-year postdoctoral researcher position regarding "Understanding the nature of the mental lexicon" in the Language in Interaction consortium. The goal of this project is to use advanced computational models applied to neural data to understand the structure and function of the language system and obtain a better understanding of the mental lexicon.
You will be member of Big Question 1 (BQ1), a larger endeavour to develop computational models of the mental lexicon from linguistic, psychological and neuroscience perspectives. Your responsibility is to develop computational models and apply them to neural data to obtain new neurolinguistic insights. To this end, you will make use of existing publicly available datasets. You will also facilitate collaborative projects in BQ1 that combine the scientific expertise across different work packages. You are expected to take a leading role in translating modeling work to scientific output that provides new insights into the neural correlates of language, as disseminated via high-impact publications. The position also includes a small number of organizational and administrative tasks within BQ1 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 Organization 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 modeling, 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 (BQs) 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 modeling?
BQ2: What are the characteristics and consequences of internal brain organization 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 Netherlands. 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 Cognitive Neuroscience, Computational Linguistics, Artificial Intelligence or a related field of research. We expect you to have expertise in the domain of language research, excellent computational skills and python programming experience, as well as experience with neural data analysis. You will further develop the modeling approaches that are being created within the team and apply these approaches to rich neural datasets to generate new insights about the nature of the mental lexicon. You should have an outstanding 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 also be considered.

What we have to offer

  • employment: 1.0 FTE;
  • a maximum gross monthly salary of € 4,978 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;
  • term of contract: you will be appointed for an initial period of 12 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 24 months;
  • UFO job profile: Researcher, Level 3;
  • the Collective Labour Agreement (CAO) of Dutch Universities is applicable to this position;
  • Dutch universities and the institute involved have a number of regulations in place that enable employees 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.

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: 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

Prof. dr. Peter Hagoort, Programme Director Language in Interaction consortium
Telephone: +31 24 361 06 48, +31 24 352 13 01


You should upload your application (attn. of Prof. dr. M. van Gerven) exclusively via 'Apply directly'.
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 persons who can provide references.

Please apply before 05 May 2019, 23:59 CET.

For more information on your application: +31 24 36 11173.

No commercial propositions please.