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PhD Position, Cognitive Neuropsychology

Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics - Department of Cognitive Neuropsychology

The Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, investigates the attentional, cognitive, and affective mechanisms of aesthetic perception and evaluation.

The Department of Cognitive Neuropsychology invites applications for a

PhD position
fixed term (36 months), salary scale 13 TVöD 65%

The newly founded Department of Cognitive Neuropsychology, headed by Prof. Fredrik Ullén, at the MPI for Empirical Aesthetics uses music as a model to analyze the brain mechanisms that underpin human expertise, skill learning, and creativity. We offer a dynamic and enthusiastic research environment, which employs a broad combination of techniques, ranging from structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging and psychological and physiological experiments, to behavior genetic analyses of gene-environment interplay:

Learning to play a musical instrument requires the acquisition of complex skills that have distributed representations in brain regions that process sensory, motor, and affective information. There are many unresolved questions concerning the neural organization of such representations and their roles for the control of behavior. The focus of the present doctoral project is to address these questions using fMRI and multivariate pattern analyses of brain activity, with the aim to break new ground in our understanding of not just the musical brain, but also of the neural basis of skill learning in general.

Requirements for this position are a Master’s degree, or equivalent, in cognitive neuroscience, psychology, or a related field, as well as a high proficiency in oral and written English. A solid methods background in statistics, prior experience with fMRI, and the use of machine learning based analysis techniques (MVPA, RSA etc.), as well as experience with programming in Python and MATLAB are highly desirable. Basic experience with playing a musical instrument or singing is useful, but no requirement.

The position will begin earliest on December 1st, 2021 and is initially limited to three years. The selection process will continue until the position is filled. Salary is based on the pay scale of the Max Planck Society.

The research will be conducted at MPI for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt am Main with access to a Siemens 3T MRI scanner, as well as laboratories for behavioral and physiological experiments. The facilities are supported by experienced IT and physicist staff. Analyses are carried out on the Institute’s high-performance cluster. The institute is a highly interdisciplinary and international scientific environment, with English and German being the languages spoken in the laboratory. It is located in an attractive location with excellent infrastructure in Frankfurt’s Westend. You can expect a modern workplace with a pleasant and inspiring working atmosphere.

The Max Planck Society strives for gender equality and diversity. We are also committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in our workforce. Therefore, applicants of all backgrounds are welcome.

Your application should include: your detailed CV, a cover letter that explains why the lab’s research and pursuing a doctoral degree interests you and how your skills and abilities are suitable, copies of relevant degrees and/or certificates, a short summary of your Master’s thesis (one page), names and contact information of two references who have previously agreed to be contacted.

Please send these materials all together in a single PDF file, before October 25th, 2021, by e-mail to using the code “PhD musical skills in the subject.

Please feel free to contact, or Dr. Örjan de Manzano or Dr. Fredrik Ullén at the department if you have any questions about the position.

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Frankfurt - Germany
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: Salary scale 13 TVöD 65%
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 24th September 2021
Closes: 25th October 2021
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