[visionlist] Groningen, The Netherlands , PhD and post-doc positions in neuro-imaging

Frans Cornelissen f.w.cornelissen at rug.nl
Mon Sep 25 19:53:43 GMT 2006

PhD and post-doc positions in neuro-imaging – Groningen, The Netherlands

Can we make visible what a person experiences when observing the  
visual world?
Can we predictably influence what people feel and expect when they  
see or touch objects?
Can we augment vision by influencing were people look and what they  

These challenging questions are posed by three European research  
projects (summaries below). Besides being interesting questions from  
a neuro-scientific point of view, each has its potential relevance in  
communication, design, medicine and education. The Laboratory of  
Experimental Ophthalmology (LEO) and the BCN Neuro-imaging Center   
(BCN-NIC) of the University of Groningen, The Netherlands will  
provide the neuro-scientific background as well as perform the neuro- 
scientific experiments for these different projects.

Interested to work on these questions as a Ph.D. or as a post-doc?

We are looking for people with a passion for neuroscience and a  
specific interest in (and knowledge of) visual and emotional  
processing, visual attention and search, and eye-movements, and who  
are eager to apply state-of-the-art imaging and eye-tracking  
technologies to answer the above questions. Experience in neuro- 
imaging and psychophysics, programming skills (in particular Matlab),  
good oral and writing skills, are all considered important. The  
projects encourage and offer numerous possibilities for scientific  
interactions with other groups and companies throughout Europe.  
Salaries and benefits are according to Dutch standards and  
commensurate on experience. PhD positions are for four years, with an  
evaluation after the first year. Post-doctoral positions are for  
three years. Groningen offers affordable living in a pleasant and  
relaxed university town in the north of the Netherlands.
To apply, please send, in electronic format, a curriculum vitae,  
sample papers of previous work, and the names and contact information  
of two or three references to: Frans W. Cornelissen (email:  
f.w.cornelissen at rug.nl). Positions are open until suitable candidates  
have been found. Preference is for candidates that can start early  
(preferably this year).


Project summaries

Project 1: SYNTEX: measuring cortical processing of texture, and  
feelings and expectation associated with texture

Despite the wide use of visual and haptic texture in industrial  
design, architecture and art to convey information (e.g. about the  
atmosphere or safety of buildings, or the strength, quality, or  
intended users or use of objects), there is virtually no systematic  
research on the emotional qualities and expectations associated with  
specific textures. SynTex aims at providing methods and a theory to  
objectively measure, model and predict such psychological effects and  
will use neuro-imaging, psychophysical and computational methods to  
achieve its goals. SynTex is expected to have substantial impact on  
product design in its most general sense. Designers of buildings  
(architects), consumer products, interfaces of computer programs,  
internet pages, and games, will profit from the ability to use  
texture in a predictable way to communicate additional information  
and achieve intended psychological effects.
The Groningen projects will study cortical processing of visual and  
haptic texture, as well as emotional responses to texture and  
textured objects, using psychophysics and fMRI (and other neuro- 
imaging techniques).

Project 2: PERCEPT: neuro-imaging of visual exploration, search, and  
interpretation: mapping the content of our “mind’s eye”

PERCEPT pioneers an approach for explicating a person’s subjective  
interpretation of visual material. This will be achieved through the  
measurement and rendering of “Interpretation Maps” (IM);  
visualizations of a person’s emotional and attentional states coupled  
with gaze direction and on-line scene analysis. As a result, thus far  
hidden personal views will be available for sharing with others,  
allowing enhanced and even entirely novel ways of communication and  
collaboration. Depending on the task, IM can become Beauty Maps  
(evaluating the aesthetics of art) or Relevance Maps (assessing  
technical or medical images).
Attention and emotions will be measured using neurophysiological  
(fMRI, EEG) and behavioural methods (eye-tracking, recognition of  
emotion in speech and facial expression). We will introduce new  
techniques of high temporal resolution (such as eye-fixation-based  
methods) to allow free visual exploration, working with individual  
subjects, and combining measures in a novel way. We will demonstrate  
PERCEPT’s principles with masterpieces of European art and scientific  
The Groningen project will combine fMRI (potentially combined with  
other imaging techniques such as EEG) and eye-tracking to elucidate  
mechanisms involved in visual exploration, search, and interpretation  
of natural and artificial scenes and textures.

Project 3: GAZECOM: guiding gaze to augment vision: neuro-imaging of  
natural and augmented visual task performance
Vision is the dominant perceptual channel through which we interact  
with information and communication systems, but one major limitation  
of our visual communication capabilities is that we can attend to  
only a very limited number of features and events at any one time.  
This fact has severe consequences for visual communication, because  
what is effectively communicated depends to a large degree on those  
mechanisms in the brain that deploy our attentional resources and  
determine where we direct our gaze.
We therefore propose that future ICT systems should use gaze guidance  
to help the users deploy their limited attentional resources more  
effectively. The same technology can be used to create augmented  
vision aids that improve human visual capabilities by complementing  
natural vision with computer-vision technology in an unobtrusive way.
The Groningen project will use fMRI and eye-tracking to study  
cortical responses during natural and augmented visual task performance.

Laboratory of Experimental Ophthalmology & BCN NeuroImaging Centre,  
School of Behavioural and Cognitive Neurosciences, University Medical  
Centre Groningen,
PO Box 30.001, Groningen 9700 RB, The Netherlands,
Email: f.w.cornelissen at rug.nl, Tel: +31 (0) 50-3614173

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