FUNDED PHD CANDIDATE POSITION – Brain Rhythms and Cognition Group



  • Position: PhD student
  • Researcher Profile: First Stage Researcher (R1- up to the point of PhD)
  • Number of vacancies: 1
  • Project: PID2020-114717RA-I00 The "sweet spot" of Cognitive Conflict
  • Location:  Spain > Donostia-San Sebastian
  • Research Field: Neuroscience > Cognition
  • Type of contract/Duration of Contract :  4 years
  • Job Status: Full-time
  • Hours per week: 35
  • Starting date: September 2022


Information about the project: The Basque Center on Cognition Brain and Language – BCBL- (San Sebastián, Basque Country, Spain) is offering one 4-year funded PhD opportunity.

Project summary: In this project (SweetC), we aim at investigating the possibility that some degree of cognitive conflict can be beneficial for subsequent behavioural performance or pursued, instead of  be a cost or aversive, as commonly assumed in the literature. We will employ very classical tasks from Cognitive Science (i.e., the Stroop, the Flanker, the Simon or the Posner tasks) together with biometric data (i.e., eyes movement, heart rate, and galvanic response), electrophysiology (EEG/MEG) and self-report data. Lab testing in humans will be coupled with outreach activities throughout the duration of the project, testing the possibility that cognitive conflict can be used for entertainment by science dissemination. We will follow a multidisciplinary approach and combined Cognitive Sciences (i.e., control theories), Psychological Sciences (i.e., motivation) and Physiology (i.e., EEG and other measures) to advance scientific knowledge in these fields. SweetC also promises to have a strong translational impact on communication, advertisement, social sciences, and entertainment. We will adopt a pre-registration policy (including registered reports, whenever possible) to benefit from peer-review before data collection and to promote the advancement of Science with and for Society.

Job description: SweetC is a training opportunity for a PhD student interested in Neurohumanities (a neuroscientific approach to the study of arts, humanities, and social sciences, as recently defined by Carew & Ramaswami, 2020). A PhD student working on SweetC would develop advanced technical (behavioural and physiological data collection and analysis skills, including EEG; advanced statistical methods) and analytical skills (problem-solving; creative solutions; effective communication; data analysis), as well as a multidisciplinary theoretical background on the principles for integrating Cognitive Neuroscience, Neurophysiology, Social Sciences, entertainment, communication, and advertisement. International students are welcome to apply.

The ideal candidate will be required to:

-           Carry out research under supervision;

-           Have the ambition to develop knowledge of research methodologies and discipline;

-           Demonstrated the ability to produce data under supervision;

-           Be capable of critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis of new and complex ideas;

-           Be able to explain the outcome of research and value thereof to research colleagues at conferences and scientific meetings.

PI and research group: Dr Manuela Ruzzoli ( recently joined the BCBL after international experiences in distinguish Universities in Italy (University of Padua and Verona), Australia (University of Sydney), Germany (Heinrich-Heine-Universität), Spain (University Pompeu Fabra) and the UK (University of Glasgow). Her research investigates the physiological and cognitive mechanisms associated with human behaviour in perception, attention and cognitive control. Dr Manuela Ruzzoli is interested in identifying reliable brain states predictive of performance to foster self-regulation of cognition. To do that, she uses EEG (event-related and ongoing activity) and non-invasive brain stimulation (TMS, tES), coupled with psychophysics, neuropsychology or behavioural tests. Currently, she is also leading projects on brain-computer interface (BCI) for attention enhancement with an emphasis on real-time analyses.

The PhD student will benefit from the unique environment offered by the BCBL (Brain Rhythms and Cognition group), an internationally recognized center conducting cutting-edge research in multiple areas of cognitive neuroscience. The BCBL offers extraordinary research facilities, including MEG, MRI, EEG, NIRS, eye-tracking (MEG and MRI-compatible), along with the theoretical, technical, and practical training required to obtain expertise in these techniques. The BCBL also counts on a highly supportive administrative staff, which facilitates research implementation and management. Furthermore, the PhD student will have the opportunity to join in discussions and brainstorming sessions with the other (international) members of the research, so as to start building professional connections.



Required skills:

  • Applicants should have a Master’s (or equivalent Honours) degree in Psychology, Cognitive (Neuro)Sciences, Neuro-Economics, Biomedical Sciences or related.
  • The applicants must demonstrate to have a good understanding of the field of study (i.e., Cognitive Sciences), interest in the topic, familiarity with data analysis, and excellent written and oral communication skills in English.

Desirable skills:

  • Programming skills are desirable (i.e., Matlab, Python, R), as well as previous experience conducting experiments in Cognitive Sciences.



Salary: 16.250€ gross/year (year 1 and 2); 17.410€ gross/year 3; 21.760€ gross/year 4

Entitlements and other benefits:

Training opportunities and Career development plan:

Researchers at any stage of their career, regardless of their contractual situation, are given an opportunity for professional development and for improving their employability through access to a Personal Career Development Plan which includes

(1) Training through individually personalized research projects under senior supervision

(2) Exchanging knowledge with the scientific community and the general public

(3) Network-wide training in theory and methods

(4) Complementary training courses

(5) Involvement in proposal writing, task coordination

(6) Development of skills for the organization of training and scientific events



Language policy

  • The corporative language at the Center is English. The national and local languages will be an asset for this particular position
  • The center provides initial level Spanish and Basque lessons to all the international staff members
  • The interview will be conducted entirely in English

Potential candidates are invited to take part in the Spanish Ministry Call for PhD Students expected for Autumn 2021. Before applying, interested candidates are strongly encouraged to contact the PI(s) of the corresponding project in order to express their interest, discuss their potential fit for the position, and request any clarifications about the position and/or the project. Note that each candidate can apply to only 1 (one) project. The BCBL admin team will support potential candidates within the application process.

Application process timetable:

To be announced as soon as 2021 Spanish Ministry Call for PhD Students is published. Expected: October 2021

Contact details for enquiries: