PhD Position in Brain & Cognition

Leuven, Louvain (BE)
Tuesday, 23 June 2020
End of advertisement period
Friday, 17 July 2020
Academic Discipline
Social Sciences, Psychology
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time


(ref. BAP-2020-479)

Within the research unit Brain and Cognition, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences (https://ppw.kuleuven.be/), Prof. Kobe Desender is looking for a motivated PhD student for a project on decision making and confidence. Our research group is an international and productive research environment. Co-supervisor of the project will be Prof. Tom Verguts from Ghent University.


You will prepare a PhD in the field of decision making and decision confidence. Its starting point is that people continuously evaluate whether their decisions are correct or not. For example, when a medical doctor is unsure whether a patient is healthy or not, she can recommend additional screening. Given the importance of such self-evaluation of choices, it is crucial to understand the computational and neural processes underlying decision confidence. Current consensus holds that decision confidence reflects the probability of a decision being correct given the available evidence. It remains unclear, however, how humans learn this quantity. We hypothesize that people use environmental feedback to learn which decisions are correct or wrong. Specifically, when one is very certain about a decision, but still receives negative feedback (i.e., a prediction error), this will change the way one evaluates subsequent performance. We will develop a computational model and learning algorithm that implements this concept. After validating this model, we will use it to explain overconfidence and underconfidence, and we will experimentally induce both. This project involves behavioral studies, computational modeling, and EEG measurements.


You have a degree of Master of Psychology, Master of Psychology: Theory & Research or Neurosciences, or another relevant degree. Master students who will graduate no later than September 2020 are also invited to apply. Experience with behavioral experimentation, programming, modeling and EEG is an asset. In any case the candidate should be motivated to invest in these skills.

You are familiar with scientific methods in cognitive neuroscience. You have good statistical and methodological skills. Knowledge of R, Python and/or Matlab is an asset.

You are able to work independently and flexibly. You have a talent for organization and good communication skills.

You are motivated and eager to learn.

Candidates’ CV should include at least two email addresses of academic referees. Next to their CV, candidates also have to provide a motivation letter (max 1 page), in which they thoroughly discuss their specific interest for this job opening, and a detailed overview of their study results.


We offer:

  • a stimulating and dynamic work and learning environment, with excellent research facilities, in which you acquire expertise as a researcher with the aim to obtain a PhD. During the process, you will work together with the promotors and other members of the research group.
  • a fulltime position as researcher for 4 years.
  • the opportunity for professional development through the doctoral training, workshops, courses, seminars and (inter)national conferences.
  • a salary according to standard Belgian regulations (starting at around €2000 per month net salary).

Starting date is preferably October 1st 2020.


Applications are considered until the position is filled. After a first selection based on the applicants’ documents, the candidates will be invited for an interview. For more information, feel free to contact Prof. Kobe Desender.

You can apply for this job no later than July 17, 2020 via the online application tool

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.