Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Three postdoctoral positions in the School of Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol, UK.

A 5-year ERC-funded project entitled “Generalisation in Mind and Machine” explores how well humans and artificial neural networks generalize across a range of tasks.  Over the course of the grant there will be 4 postdoctoral researchers involved in modelling, 1 postdoctoral researcher involved in empirical work, and two PhD students. I am currently looking to hire two persons (one quite senior) with experience working with “deep” neural networks, and one person with extensive experience carrying out cognitive psychology experiments.  

In contrast with the large community of modelers in machine learning focused on improving the performance of deep networks for applied reasons, the goal of this project is to explore what neural networks tell us about how the brain works.  More specifically, the team will be working on questions of generalization in the domains of object identification, word identification, short-term memory, and games, amongst other areas. One key issue that we will explore is the extent to which “symbolic” computations are required to support some forms of generalization. This research is related to previous and ongoing research in my lab that explores why and when artificial neural networks learn localist "grandmother cell" representations with the goal to better understand why some neurons respond to high-level information in a highly selective manner. 

The project will start in September 2017 (or shortly thereafter).  For further information about the project and information about applying, please go the following links. 

Research Associate focused on behavioural research:
Senior Research Associate focused on modelling:
Research Fellow focused on modelling (most senior post):

Closing Date for applications:  June 22, 2017. If you have any questions, please get in touch with me at:

Post-doctoral position at the BCBL- Basque Center on Cognition Brain and Language

Post-doctoral position at the BCBL- Basque Center on Cognition Brain and Language (San Sebastián, Basque Country, Spain) (Center of excellence Severo Ochoa)

Applications are invited for a 2-year full-time post-doctoral position in cognitive neuroscience at the Basque Center on Brain Cognition and Language (BCBL) in San Sebastian (Spain). Applicants should have strong interests in consciousness and cognitive neurosciences coupled with strong computational skills in Python. The main project will use functional MRI to assess the neural correlates of the encoding/maintenance of semantic representations and the learning of new categories and statistical regularities across distinct states of attention and conscious awareness. Experience with state of the art machine learning classification approaches and toolboxes (e.g. PyMVPA, Nilearn, Scikit-learn) is a requirement. Additional expertise in dynamic functional connectivity analyses would be a plus.

The BCBL Center (recently awarded the label of excellence Severo Ochoa) promotes a vibrant research environment without substantial teaching obligations. It provides access to the most advanced behavioral and neuroimaging techniques, including 3 Tesla Siemens Prisma scanner, a whole-head MEG system, four ERP labs, a NIRS lab, a baby lab including an eyetracker, two eyetracking labs, and several well-equipped behavioral labs. The BCBL hosts  excellent support staff and research personnel. Details of BCBL faculty research interests and research facilities can be found at Informal inquiries about the post can be directed to David Soto,

Selection of candidates and interviews will be ongoing until August 15st, 2017. Please submit your application as soon as possible.

To submit your application please follow this link:, applying for “Postdoc fMRI 2017 Consciousness” and upload: 
1. Your curriculum vitae.
2. A covering letter outlining your research interests (4000 characters maximun) 
3. The names of two referees who would be willing to write letters of recommendation

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The real action understanding network

In The Myth of Mirror Neurons I hypothesized that the action understanding network was much more complicated than the mirror neuron theory supposed.  I pointed to the superior temporal region as a possible hub based on its action observation response properties in both monkeys and humans.  I then went on to speculate about the broad constellation of functional networks that would be needed for true action understanding.  Here's the quote from Chapter 7 in my book:
Other systems that are likely linked up to the posterior temporal (and perhaps STS) action understanding convergence zone include temporal lobe regions that could put the perceived movement in the context of (i) surrounding visually perceived objects (the lateral occipital cortex), (ii) higher-order semantic representations of objects (anterior and/or posterior temporal lobe), (iii) the particular people involved (the fusiform face area), (iv) the broader semantic or autobiographical context (the default network and medial temporal lobe memory areas), and (v) the emotional relevance (amygdala), which together put the meat of understanding on the bones of the perceived action. The network will also have to be interfaced with prefrontal circuits involved (i) in assessing the relevance of the action given the context above, (ii) in directing attention to the action if the context dictates such, and (iii) in selecting an appropriate response, if any.  
A new paper has recently been published in Science describing an fMRI experiment in four monkeys during both agent-object interaction observation and agent-agent, i.e., social interaction observation. Here is a map of activated regions in the two conditions.

Both implicate fairly large networks as we would expect for complex cognitive tasks like figuring what someone is doing. The social interaction map is interesting in that it yields more robust activation and recruits additional, mostly medial and limbic-related structures.  This makes sense for a social species. More specifically, here's a quote from the paper listing the regions activated.
Social interactions, but not physical ones, activated a large set of brain regions beyond the category selective networks and the MNS (Fig. 2, I to N). This social-interaction network (SIN) included parts of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) (areas 32 and 10mr, and 24b, respectively), dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) (areas F6 or Pre-SMA, 8Bm, and 9m), a temporo-parietal cluster (areas TPOc and 7a), parts of the ventro-lateral prefrontal cortex (vlPFC) (ventral part of F5, ventral part of 44, the posterior part of 47 and 12, and OPro), temporal pole regions (TPOi, STS areas 1 and 2, and TPpro), the perirhinal cortex (36R), dorsal STS areas [social posterior dorsal (sPD) and social anterior dorsal (sAD), located dorsally to posterior lateral (PL) and anterior fundus (AF) face patches, and anterior dorsal (AD), a face patch located dorsally to face patch AF], and cortical and subcortical systems engaged in reward, valence, and emotional processing [caudate; amygdala; and areas 10o, 11l, and 14r of the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC)]
The take home message, to quote again from my book is that action "understanding is a complicated thing with lots of moving parts. You can’t pull out one part and call that the 'basis of action understanding.' It doesn’t work for just the motor bits and it doesn’t work for just the sensory bits." If we are going to make progress in understanding the neurocomputational nature of action understanding, we are going to have map all the parts and their interactions.

PHD candidate position at the BCBL- Basque Center on Cognition Brain and Language (San Sebastián, Basque Country, Spain)

PHD candidate position at the BCBL- Basque Center on Cognition Brain and Language (San Sebastián, Basque Country, Spain) (Center of excellence Severo Ochoa)

Applications are invited for a 4-year full-time PhD Studentship in cognitive neuroscience of language at the Basque Center on Brain Cognition and Language (BCBL) in San Sebastian (Spain) to investigate plasticity changes in brain language networks using MEG in patients that undergo brain surgery. 

Applicants should have a Masters degree in Cognitive Neuroscience, Computer science, Neuroscience, Engineering, Psychology, or neighbor areas, with a strong interest in the key areas of cognitive neuroscience that are relevant for the research, coupled with strong computational skills (e.g., Python, Matlab). Experience with state-of-the art neuroscience techniques (e.g., MEG, EEG, MRI) is highly desirable but not mandatory.

The BCBL research facilities include a 3T Siemens Prisma MRI, a whole-head Elekta MEG system, four ERP labs, a NIRS lab, a baby lab, and several well-equipped behavioral labs including eye trackers and a computing cluster. There is also an excellent team of technical support and research staff. Details of BCBL faculty research interests and research facilities can be found at
Deadline July 30th

We encourage immediate applications as the selection process will be ongoing and the appointment may be made before the deadline.

To submit your application please follow this link: applying for PhD MEG 2017 and upload:
  1. Your curriculum vitae.
  2. A cover letter/statement describing your research interests (4000 characters maximum)
  3. The names of two referees who would be willing to write letters of recommendation

For more information, please contact the Director of BCBL, Manuel Carreiras (

Friday, May 19, 2017

Postdoctoral Research Position Available

One postdoctoral research position is available at the NeuroImaging and Electrophysiology Lab ( in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. This position is funded by a recently awarded BRAIN Initiative U01 grant for which Dr. Tandon is the PI. The project uses intracranial EEG (iEEG) recordings on a large cohort (n=80) to evaluate psycho-linguistic models of reading and speech production with the goal being to create network level representation of language. Collaborators on the project with whom the post-doc will work closely are Nathan Crone (Hopkins), Greg Hickok (UCI), Stanislas Dehaene (College de France), Xaq Pitkow (Baylor) and Josh Breier (UT Houston).

Project Description:
This is a close multi center collaboration that brings together investigators with established track records in iEEG recordings, neuroscience of language and computational neuroscience to better understand the uniquely human behavior of reading and producing language. More details about the U01 grant are online at NIH Reporter. The post-doc will benefit from a close interaction with several experts in the fields of reading, semantics, and speech production.

Post-doc Responsibilities:
The selected individual is expected to be a highly motivated, team player that has the passion to study cognitive processes using direct recordings in humans.  He or she will be responsible for 1) optimizing and refining paradigms for use in the project, 2) data collection in the epilepsy monitoring unit and in the MRI scanner, 3) iEEG data analysis using a analysis pipelines existent in the lab and via the development of innovative strategies, and 4) data presentation at conferences, manuscript and grant writing.

The selected individual must have a Ph.D. in one or more of the following - neuroscience, psychology, cognitive science, mathematics, electrical engineering or computer science. Previous experience in neural time series data analysis or functional imaging studies of reading or speech production is highly desirable. Crucial is the ability to independently code in either or all of the following – MATLAB, R or Python. Given the multiple unpredictable variables and privacy issues around data collection in human patients, the individual must possess high ethical and professionalism standards, be able to adapt to a changing environment, reorganize schedules dynamically, and work with tight deadlines. The individual must possess the ability to work effectively independently, yet collaborate effectively on projects with multiple investigators. A strong publication record and excellent prior academic credentials are highly desirable.

If you are interested, you can email us at or call us at (713) 500-5475.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Job Opportunity: DIRECTOR Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute Elkins Park, PA

The Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute (MRRI) invites inquiries, applications and nominations for the position of Director. MRRI is an internationally recognized research institute dedicated to three focus areas: Cognitive neuroscience and cognitive rehabilitation, traumatic brain injury treatments and outcomes, and movement sciences and mobility rehabilitation. MRRI shares the health campus with MossRehab and Einstein Medical Center at Elkins Park, PA.  MRRI and MossRehab are part of the larger Einstein Healthcare Network.  This is an outstanding leadership opportunity to substantially build upon a world-class, highly collaborative research institute devoted to improving the lives of individuals with neurological disabilities, as well as the opportunity to impact neurorehabilitation science. 

After stable and productive leadership under the two co-founders, MRRI now seeks a dynamic leader with a national research reputation to guide MRRI’s growth and development as a regional, national and international leader in cognitive neuroscience and rehabilitation research. The next Director will partner with the Associate Director, the MRRI Advisory Board, current institute scientists and MossRehab leadership and will ideally continue to enhance clinical integration through multidisciplinary collaborations. Important goals for the new Director will be to raise the national and international profile, build and enhance local university partnerships and stengthen and diversify funding opportunities.

Candidates must possess a M.D., M.D./Ph.D. or Ph.D. or equivalent degree with a deep appreciation of research and a broad knowledge of cognitive neuroscience, neurorehabilitation or a closely related field. The successful candidate must also demonstrate recognized productivity and achievement in research, and the ability to work collaboratively with colleagues. As the administrative leader for the Institute, candidates should have a strong business sense and an understanding of what it takes to help enhance research funding in a competitive environment. Exceptional communication skills, financial acumen and the potential to fundraise are essential, as is a clear vision for advancing the research mission in the midst of a changing funding landscape.

Applications should include a curriculum vitae and cover letter and be sent via email to  Inquiries may be addressed to Joyce DeLeo, Ph.D. at 630-575-6177 or Elizabeth Frye, M.D. at 630-575-6949, the Witt/Kieffer consultants supporting this search.

Einstein Healthcare Network selects employees on the basis of skill, knowledge, values and experience. Our network seeks diversity on the basis of national origin, race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ancestry, age and disability.