Opportunities

We have 3 postdoc positions to start early 2021 and one PhD position to start Sept 2021.

Project: Uncovering the neural architecture underlying decisions abstracted from movements

Applications are invited for a 3-year postdoctoral research position in the Kelly lab in University College Dublin, to work on a collaborative Tripartite project on the neural mechanisms of perceptual decision making, jointly funded by Science Foundation Ireland, HSC-Northern Ireland and the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.

The overall, multi-site project involves non-human primate neurophysiology (Michael Shadlen in Columbia University), intracranial human EEG (Stephan Bickel in Northwell-Hofstra School of Medicine), biologically based neural network modelling (KongFatt Wong-Lin, Ulster University), human fMRI (Redmond O’Connell in Trinity College Dublin) and human EEG (Simon Kelly in UCD), with several planned visits and regular interactions among labs, and diverse skill-building opportunities. The primary focus of the postdoc position in UCD is to contribute insights using human EEG, in close alignment with, and with contributions to, the experiments conducted in other modalities and at the other sites.

A key focus of the project is to understand the role of neural representations of cumulative evidence that are abstracted from specific motor requirements, and to find out where and how such representations are computed in the human and non-human primate brains.

Interested candidates should submit a brief research statement and CV including publications through the UCD job vacancies site (https://www.ucd.ie/workatucd/jobs/ – search for job ref number 012810). Informal enquiries can be directed to Simon (simon.kelly@ucd.ie). Candidates should explain in their statement how their own research interests fit with those of the Kelly lab and why they are suited to this particular multi-site neuroscience project.

The deadline for submitting applications is Dec 16 2020, and shortlisting and interviews will take place shortly after that. It is hoped that the candidate can start on this project early in the new year.

Project: What dictates the extent of evidence accumulation in human decision making?

Two 3-year postdoctoral positions (to start April/May 2021) and one 4-year PhD position (to start September 2021) are available to work on a project examining the task-adaptive role of evidence accumulation in perceptual decision making using an innovative approach combining human neurophysiology and computational modelling. This project is funded under a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award, by the SFI-HRB-Wellcome Research Partnership.

The extent to which evidence accumulation underpins decision formation in some or all perceptual tasks is still widely debated. Accordingly, there now exist many distinct, alternative mathematical decision models that limit the role of evidence accumulation in various ways, most notably through leaky integration or “collapsing” decision bounds. The trouble is, these alternative models can often be made to fit behavioral data equally well but lead to fundamentally different inferences. With the rapidly growing use of these models across many basic and clinical research domains, it is past time that we knew whether, why and how these alternative mechanisms are invoked across different task scenarios, including ones representative of real life. This project will draw on novel neurally-informed modelling approaches developed by our lab (see, e.g. [1-3]) and others, to uncover core principles governing how neurocomputational decision processes are flexibly adapted to diverse task demands.

The Kelly lab is based in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering in University College Dublin, Ireland, and is affiliated with the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience. It has strong collaborative links to basic and clinical cognitive neuroscience research groups employing a range of methods, both locally and internationally. The successful candidates will have ample opportunities for wider collaborations and the learning of new skills.

Interested candidates should submit their CV and a brief research statement describing their background and research interests and how they align with the project and the broader interests of the Kelly lab. For the postdoc positions please submit these materials through the UCD job vacancies site (https://www.ucd.ie/workatucd/jobs/ – search for job ref number 012812), before the deadline of Jan 11 2021. For the PhD position please submit by email directly to Simon (simon.kelly@ucd.ie). Please feel free to get in touch in advance for more details or advice.

The postdoc positions are intended to start in April 2021, and the PhD position in September 2021, with some flexibility.

[1] Afacan-Seref K, Steinemann NA, Blangero A, Kelly SP. Dynamic interplay of value and sensory information in high-speed decision making. Current Biology. 2018. 28(5):795-802.e6.
[2] Kelly SP, Corbett EA, O’Connell RG. Neurocomputational mechanisms of prior-informed perceptual decision making in humans. Nature Human Behaviour. In Press.
[3] O’Connell RG, Shadlen MN, Wong-Lin K, Kelly SP. Bridging Neural and Computational Viewpoints on Perceptual Decision-Making. Trends Neurosci. 2018;41(11):838‐852. doi:10.1016/j.tins.2018.06.005