Role of prefrontal cortex and amygdala in social cognition and reward-based learning. - Belgium
- Orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and amygdala (AMY) are crucial nodes in the neural circuits underlying social cognition, emotional learning, and attention.
- These reciprocally connected structures have been implicated in several psychiatric disorders, and dysfunctional “top-down” OFC-AMY, and “bottom-up” AMY-OFC pathways have both been speculated underlie symptoms like emotional dysregulation, abnormal sociality, and abnormal motivations.
- While it is impossible to prove causal roles for either circuit in humans at present, gene transfer-based methods for controlling in vivo circuit activity in rodents are reaching maturity, and preliminary reports show these methods are well-tolerated and functional in non-human primates as well.
- This project involves investigating both the behavioral and functional consequences of reversibly inhibiting AMY-OFC projections, using a state-of-the art pharmacogenetic approach, in combination with functional MRI in the awake rhesus monkey.
- Candidates are expected to have a Master degree in Neuroscience, Biomedical Sciences, Medicine, Physics, Computer Sciences or related fields.
- Experience with functional MRI data acquisitions/analysis and/or proficient programming skills (matlab) are highly advantageous.
- Excellent communication skills in English (oral and written) are essential.
- We offer a PhD position in a stimulating research environment for an initial period of one year, with an additional three year period upon positive evaluation.
- The candidate will have the opportunity to attend both national and international conferences.
- Salary is in accordance with Belgian regulations.