Last application date Jun 04, 2021 00:00
Department PP02 - Department of Experimental Psychology
Contract Limited duration
Degree Master’s degree in psychology, biology, or a related discipline
Occupancy rate 100%
Vacancy type Research staff
A PhD position in animal experimental psychology is available for 2+2 years, co-funded by an ERC (European Research Council) consolidator grant and a Methusalem grant (Flemish government). The research will be led by Prof. Frederick Verbruggen (Department of Experimental Psychology) at Ghent University, in close collaboration with Prof. Luc Lens (Department of Biology) and Prof. An Martel (Department of Pathology, Bacteriology and Poultry Diseases at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine).
The successful applicant will join the ‘Cognition, Behavior and Ecology’ lab (CoBE@UGent) to work on a project that focuses on response inhibition, and more specifically, the learning and development of inhibitory control in different environments (‘eco-devo’).
Response inhibition refers to the ability to suppress or cancel actions that are premature, unduly risky, inappropriate, or no longer required. Response inhibition is a key component of ’executive functioning’, and is essential for navigating everyday life. In humans, its derailment is also considered integral to numerous neurological and psychiatric disorders, and more generally, to a wide range of behavioral and health problems.
In this project, we will use an animal model (the Japanese quail) to study:
1. how individuals inhibit actions in complex and ecologically-valid environments
2. how and to what extent inhibitory-control (dis)abilities are shaped by learning
3. whether a lack of inhibitory control is by default dysfunctional in different contexts.
The research will happen in our state-of-the-art research facilities at the Wildlife Rescue Centre (WRC) in Ostend. The WRC is an internationally renowned institution, specializing in the rescue and rehabilitation of birds. At the WRC, we have constant access to ten outdoor enclosures, 4 lofts with an outdoor area, a large flight cage, two research rooms, and an office space. All enclosures, lofts, and cages are equipped with a camera system and a (soon to be-installed) UWB tracking system to monitor birds 24/7.
The successful applicant will be responsible for the development of experiments (in collaboration with the interdisciplinary research team, consisting of psychologists, biologists, and veterinary scientists), collection and analysis of data, publication and dissemination of the results, and will be involved in the supervision of research assistants and MSc students.
Preferred start date: September or October 2021.
We are looking for a highly-motivated candidate with: