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Role of prefrontal cortex and amygdala in social cognition and reward-based learning. Leuven Belgium,  

KU Leuven (company)

Posted on : 19 July 2017

Project Description

  • 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.


3000 Leuven Belgium

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