There is an opening for a fully-funded PhD position to work on the dynamics of visual working memory at Utrecht University. The PhD student will work in the Attentionlab of Stefan Van der Stigchel, principal investigator of the European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator project HOMEOSTASIS and Professor in Cognitive Psychology at Utrecht University.

The HOMEOSTASIS project is motivated by the idea that visual working memory (VWM) should be studied in interaction with the world that is still within view. The known limitation of VWM may not be a problem in daily life, because the external world typically remains available and can be accessed relatively easily using an eye movement. It’s currently unknown how the brain balances between internal storage and external sampling of the world.

HOMEOSTASIS will develop a new theoretical model of WM based on an internal mental economy in which VWM maintains a perceptual homeostasis by dynamically trading the costs of accurate internal storage against external sampling of the external visual world.

For one of the work packages, we are looking for a PhD student with a background in cognitive psychology/neuroscience or artificial intelligence. Using eye tracking, we will investigate the costs of making an eye movement and how these costs influence the trade-off between internal storage and external sampling. You will become a part of our Attentionlab in which a group of post-docs and PhD students are working on the same project. The PhD student will participate in the education program of the Helmholtz research school.


We are looking for someone who:

  • holds (or nearly holds) a Master’s degree in Psychology, Cognitive Neurosciene, Artificial Intelligence, or a related field;
  • takes a quantitative view of psychology and neuroscience;
  • has strong computer programming skills;
  • takes a practical approach to solving technical problems;
  • has excellent written and spoken English communication skills (no Dutch required);
  • is effective and efficient, able to work within a team, and to think conceptually.


We offer a temporary position (1.0 FTE) for one year that, with satisfactory completion, will result in an extension for an additional three years. The gross salary – depending on previous qualifications and experience – ranges between €2,434 and €3,111 (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year. In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions  external link (multiple choice model). Here you’ll find more information about working at Utrecht University  external link.

About the organisation

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University  external link, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

Utrecht is a young and vibrant city with a large academic population, around 30 minutes south of Amsterdam. It combines a beautiful old city center with a modern university. Utrecht has an excellent quality of life, with plenty of green space and a strong bicycle culture.

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences  external link is one of the leading faculties in Europe providing research and academic teaching in interdisciplinary social science, cultural anthropology, educational sciences, pedagogical sciences, psychology, and sociology. More than 5,600 students are enrolled in a broad range of undergraduate and graduate programmes. The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences has some 850 faculty and staff members, all providing their individual contribution to the training and education of young talent and to the research into and finding solutions for scientific and societal issues.

Additional information

Informal enquiries should be sent to Stefan van der Stigchel  external link( Full applications must be submitted through our online system by midnight (central European time) on November 1. Applications should contain: a cover letter describing your interest in this research, a cv, and contact information for two academics who can provide a letter of recommendation.


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives.
Please upload your motivation letter and a full CV via the ‘application’ button below.

The application deadline is 1 November 2021.


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