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Neural markers and interventions for socio-communicative impairments in autism - Belgium  

KU Leuven (company)


Posted on : 12 June 2017

Project Description

  • Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized by impairments in social communication and interaction. 
  • Among the major needs, there is a clear urge for more reliable and objective diagnostics and more efficient treatments. 
  • With the current research proposal we aim to fill in this gap by assessing and targeting the core social impairments of ASD via a neurobiological approach. In particular, we will validate an innovative EEG-based neural tool to objectively quantify socio-communicative sensitivity in children with ASD. 
  • Next, we will combine this new tool with various behavioural, physiological and MRI measurements to study the underlying mechanisms of oxytocin pharmacotherapy (i.e. social salience, social stress, social brain circuitry and social cognition and behaviour), and we will use this multimodal approach to monitor and predict the outcome of a long-term placebo-controlled clinical trial in children with social difficulties with and without ASD. 

  • Applicants should have or should soon obtain a Master's degree in behavioral, biomedical or neuroscience, psychology, psychiatry, or related areas.  
  • Clinical experience with patient populations, experience with neurophysiological research and good computer (programming) skills (e.g. Matlab) are an asset. 
  • Sufficient  Dutch communicative skills are required for interaction with pediatric patient populations. 
  • Further assets are a creative mind, good problem solving skills and a collaborative and collegial attitude.

  • We offer encouraging daily guidance and two full time PhD positions for an initial year, renewable for up to 4 years. 
  •  The salary will be competitive and in accordance with the University salary scales for PhD students.