Netherlands: PhD researcher in goal-directed behavior

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The proposed research project aims to unravel the influence of obstacle features and obstacle identity on action control. In order to program a movement that avoids an obstacle, visual information about the different features of the obstacle must be processed. Experimental studies have shown that obstacle avoidance is reflected in the dynamics of the reaching movement: the trajectory of the reach either deviates towards or away from the obstacle, depending on the task conditions. By systematically varying the features of the obstacle like texture, color, shape and hardness, it can be revealed which feature introduces the strongest interference on the reach trajectory. By combining recording of eye movements and reach trajectories, it will be revealed whether similar mechanisms underlie the rejection of irrelevant elements in the oculomotor and the motor system. Besides studies with healthy participants, investigations will also be performed with neurological patients suffering from hemispatial neglect, extinction and hemianopia. This allows us to determine whether conscious processing of different obstacle features is necessary for influencing the reach trajectory.

The PhD candidate will design and conduct experiments on cognitive processes. The research will be reported in articles which will be submitted to relevant scientific journals. After 4 years the research should lead to PhD thesis. The PhD candidate will participate in the education program of the Helmholtz research school.

The PhD candidate will play a role in screening incoming patients in the neuropsychological clinic. Besides standard neuropsychological screening on visual deficits like neglect and hemianopia, special attention will be paid to action related deficits like optic ataxia.


We are looking for enthusiastic, and ambitious candidates with:

  • a master’s degree in cognitive, neuro- or biological psychology, cognitive neuroscience or in a comparable scientific discipline;
  • experience with conducting kinematic and oculomotor experiments and with neuropsychological assessment of neurological patients will be advantageous.

Conditions of employment

We offer a temporary fulltime appointment for one year. After a positive evaluation the appointment will be extended to a total of four years maximum.

Your gross salary starts with € 2,042.- per month in the first year and increases to € 2,612.- per month in the fourth year of employment.

The salary is supplemented with an annual holiday pay of 8% and an end-of-year pay of 8,3% per year. Other secondary conditions include e.g. a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions.

More information about the employment conditions can be found on the website.

Contract type



Utrecht University, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences carries out relevant scientific research of a very high quality and provides challenging academic teaching in the fields of human behaviour and society. The Faculty’s research and teaching contribute to a critical reflection on society, human behaviour and their interconnection. More than 5,650 students follow a broad range of undergraduate and graduate (academic and research) programmes, set up by a collaboration of five departments: interdisciplinary social science, sociology, methodology and statistics, pedagogical and educational sciences, and psychology. As a result of the Faculty’s wide variety of programmes and innovative and groundbreaking research, some 750 staff members have ample opportunity to benefit from each other’s knowledge and expertise.

Additional information

Additional information about the vacancy can be obtained from: Dr Chris Dijkerman, telephone number: +31 30 253 3395, or Dr Stefan van der Stigchel: +31 30 253 3356,

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