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PhD position to study neural circuits of sensory selection

Vib Institute

PhD student position in the Vision-to-Action Laboratory will be supervised by Asli Ayaz and Vincent Bonin, at Neuro-Electronics Research Flanders in Leuven, Belgium, (NERF,


The Vision-to-Action Laboratory (Vincent Bonin (PI), Asli Ayaz, senior scientist) studies the neural basis of vision and navigation and develops approaches to investigate neural circuits in health and disease. We focus on representations and interconnected neural networks in thalamus and the cortex, how they are generated, turned into action, and impacted by disease and injury. We tackle these questions at the cellular neural circuit level combining neurophysiological and behavioural recordings with circuit tracing in the mouse.

We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD student to study neural circuits of sensory selection in the mouse cortex and thalamus. At any moment, we are exposed to a multitude of sensory inputs, and our brain filters this information and processes only a small portion of it that is relevant to us. The  appropriate sensory selection is also relevant in a clinical context such as autism spectrum disorders This selective processing of information is suggested to arise via the coordinated activity of multiple regions of the cortex. In this project, we aim to reveal neural pathways involved in the sensory selection. We will apply advanced brain imaging and genetic circuit tracing tools in a well-controlled multisensory behavioural assay.

The selected fellow will join a close collaborating group of postdocs and students focused on innate and acquired visual behaviours. Although the broad roadmap for the project has been established, this PhD position is endowed with a high level of independence. Fellows run their own research projects and work closely with other lab members to develop new assays and analyses, contributing with both methodological and conceptual insights. Fellows have ample opportunities to interact with researchers at NERF and partner labs at VIB and KU Leuven. Career advancement activities such as presentations at international scientific events, writing of funding proposals and organization of workshops are strongly encouraged.


Candidates with MSc degree in life sciences, physical sciences or engineering, with a strong interest in neuroscience and quantitative approaches are encouraged to apply. Prior experience in electrophysiology, in vivo imaging, quantitative animal behaviour or in data analysis is an advantage. Applications outside the NERF PhD program are welcome.

We seek a highly motivated individual with strong quantitative and technical skills and a collaborative spirit. Computational scientists with interest in experimental neuroscience are encouraged to apply.

We offer

Opportunity to do cutting edge science in a supportive and collaborative team. The candidate will join the vibrant community of postdocs at NERF and VIB – KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research. The lab has a strong multidisciplinary team with expertise in cortical and thalamocortical processing, large-scale and cellular resolution optical and electrical recordings, and is known for its open and collegial atmosphere and the strength of its collaborative work.

State-of-the-art tools and facilities: The laboratory is equipped with dedicated surgical, behavioral, and viral vector facilities, multiple setups for multiphoton microscopy, widefield imaging, high-density electrode recordings (Neuropixels) and patterned-light optogenetics. Proximity to exciting research institutes at the heart of Europe. NERF is within walking distance of KU Leuven on the campus of imec, world-leader in nanoelectronics research. Leuven is a short train ride away from Brussels at the heart of Europe. This is a fully funded position (4 years), however, PhD candidates are expected to seek opportunity and apply to secure fellowship funding.

Fully Funded Scholarships for International Students to Work and Study Abroad

How to apply?

Submit your application through the VIB online application tool:…

The application package should include:

  • a CV,
  • the names and contact information of 2-3 referees,
  • a copy of their undergraduate and graduate university transcripts
  • a motivation letter and research statement specifying career goals and research interests.

For information and questions, contact Applications by e-mail will not be considered.

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