PhD/Postdoc position to study the neural mechanisms of primate cognition during natural behaviors

Applications are invited for a PhD/Postdoc position to study how cognition emerges from the interplay of large populations of prefrontal neurons in primates. Prefrontal cortex lies at the apex of the hierarchy of brain areas, and underlies our most advanced cognitive abilities. Even though the importance of prefrontal cortex in cognition is well established, the precise nature of the computations performed by the underlying neural circuits is still unknown.

We study prefrontal cortex with a variety of experimental and computational methods, including psychophysical techniques to quantify the behavior of monkeys and humans engaged in carefully designed cognitive tasks, multi-electrode arrays to record and perturb the activity of hundreds of neurons simultaneously, approaches from machine learning and dynamical systems theory to analyze the resulting large data sets, and computational modeling (see Mante, Sussillo, et al. 2013). We aim to leverage the insights from this line of research to understand prefrontal function during natural behavior, whereby individual body-pose and social behaviors are extracted from large-scale video recordings with traditional computer vision methods as well as state-of-the-art deep-learning approaches, and neural population activity is monitored wirelessly.

This PhD/Postdoc position will involve work with one or more of these methods, depending on your interests and background.

The Institute of Neuroinformatics offers a highly interdisciplinary, lively, open-minded, and friendly environment to learn and conduct research. Research topics at the Institute of Neuroinformatics span a variety of domains, including experimental and computational neuroscience, machine learning, deep-neural networks, robotics, and neuromorphic hardware. PhD and Postdoc salaries are based on the guidelines of the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Requirements

The ideal candidate holds a Masters degree in a discipline like physics, computer science, electrical engineering, or bio-medical engineering, or otherwise strong quantitative skills. Candidates for a Postdoc position hold a PhD degree in a topic relevant for the project. Very good programming skills (in particular MATLAB/Python or related language) are required, knowledge in experimental and computational neuroscience is a great advantage. Previous experience with the handling of laboratory animals is not required. The applicant must be proficient in English.

Contact

Please submit your application to Prof. Valerio Mante (valerio (at) ini.uzh.ch) as a single PDF file. The application should include the following documents:
1. A cover letter.
2. A CV outlining previous education, research, and publications (if applicable).
3. Academic transcripts (Bachelor and Masters degree).
4. A research statement (1-2 pages) outlining your background, your goals, and the reasons for your interest in this project.
5. Contact details of 2-3 references (including phone number and email address).

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