PhD positions in Computational Neuroscience (Sept 2014)

Two fully-funded PhD positions in Computational Neuroscience at the Institute of Vision

Job description

Applications are invited for two PhD positions in the Aging in Vision and Action laboratory at the Institute of Vision (INSERM-CNRS-University Pierre & Marie Curie) Paris, France. The gradual impairment of vision-dependent functions with age is at the core of our research. The main goal is to characterize how healthy visual aging shapes perceptual and cognitive functions in humans.

PhD project n.1. The first PhD fellow will model age-related changes of low-level processing, coding and perception in the visual system.This project will be carried out under the supervision of Tim Masquelier & Angelo Arleo (Institute of Vision, Paris, France) and Simon Thorpe (Brain & Cognition Research Center, Toulouse, France). We will design a biologically detailed spiking neural network model of the primate early visual system. The model will have to process natural images and videos, and have self-learning capabilities. We will use this model to study the impact of healthy aging on visual processing and perception. The PhD student will work hand-in-hand with experimentalists in our Aging in Vision and Action lab performing visual psychophysics with elderly humans. We expect this project to bridge the gap between observations at the neuronal level (e.g. spontaneous activity increases, spike timing precision decreases with aging), and observations at the behavioral level (e.g. perceptual thresholds increase).

PhD project n.2. The second PhD student will model age-related consequences on visual-based spatial cognition. This project will be carried under the supervision of Denis Sheynikhovich & Angelo Arleo (Institute of Vision, Paris, France) and Ricardo Chavarriaga (EPFL, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, Switzerland). We will build a spatial learning model based on spiking neural networks accounting for existing knowledge on the neural substrates of spatial memory and navigation in animals and humans. We will use this model to study the impact of healthy visual aging on neural coding and adaptation mechanisms mediating spatial orientation and navigation. The PhD student will work hand-in-hand with experimentalists in our Aging in Vision and Action lab studying spatial orientation and navigation in elderly humans. Again, this project aims at cross-linking findings at multiple organisation levels.


Applicants should have a strong quantitative background (physics, engineering, computer science, applied mathematics), and a keen interest in reverse-engineering the brain. Knowledge on computational neuroscience, machine learning, image processing and programming languages (Matlab, C or Python) are a plus, although not mandatory. Proficiency in oral and written English is required. Knowledge of French is not mandatory. Successful candidates are expected to work in an interdisciplinary environment with collaborations with biologists, theoreticians and clinicians. They will be awarded a 3-year PhD fellowship from the University Pierre and Marie Curie Paris.

Working environment and laboratory

The Institute of Vision is one of the top international centers for integrated research on vision and eye diseases. It is located at the heart of Paris, on the campus of the National Hospital Center for Ophthalmology. The Institute of Vision includes multidisciplinary research groups, which share state-of-the-art platforms for human and animal experimentation. It also harbors a clinical investigation center, which fosters truly translational research activity. More information can be found online ( The Institute of Vision and Essilor International, world leader in ophthalmic optics, have recently supported the creation of the laboratory of Aging in Vision and Action. This new laboratory aims at evaluating and understanding the functional aspects of the degeneration mechanisms related to visual aging. This research has the potential to produce fundamental knowledge suited for opening to assistive technological developments and rehabilitation solutions. The faculty members of the Aging in Vision and Action laboratory, led by Angelo Arleo, are specialized in visual psychophysics, neurobiology of spatial orientation, neural coding, neurocomputational modeling, and preclinical evaluation. The group has access to a wide range of state-of-the-art platforms including eye trackers, motion capture rooms, virtual reality environments, brain imaging, artificial street labs and home labs (

How to apply

Candidates should send a single pdf file containing a motivation letter, a full CV, and names and contact information of at least two referees, to Short listed candidates will be contacted for an interview (either face-to-face or via videoconference).

For further inquiries, please contact Angelo Arleo,, phone: +33 (0)1 53 46 26 52.