2 PhD students in Cognitive (Neuro)Science – KULeuven UCLouvain

2 PhD students in Cognitive (Neuro)Science – KULeuven UCLouvain


We are recruiting 2 motivated PhD researchers (m/v/x) for a 4-year appointment within a KULeuven – UCLouvain research consortium, supervised by prof. Bert Reynvoet and prof. Arnaud Szmalec. 1 PhD student will be based at the KULeuven (campus Kortrijk, Belgium), 1 PhD student will be based at UCLouvain (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium). Both full time (100%) positions are funded through an FWO-FNRS WEAVE project.

Starting dates are September 1st or October 1st 2024.


The Language of Mathematics

Although mathematics is a fundamental tool in life, there is a lack of a clear scientific understanding about how mathematical abilities precisely develop. The central premise underlying this project is that mathematics is fundamentally a language that uses meaningful symbols which must be organized according to a finite set of rules in order to exchange ideas, concepts and theories among people. One of the most impactful insights that emerged from the psychology of language over the last decade, is that language acquisition seems to be largely acquired through a simple, robust and rapid learning mechanism, which is called statistical learning. Statistical learning (SL) refers to the human ability to extract regularities in how stimuli co-occur in the environment over space and time. The goal of this project is to make a case for the integration of SL and mathematics and to make a first, large-scale empirical attempt at investigating how sensitivity to distributional properties in the environmental input (i.e., SL) can subserve the development of mathematical skills. We will set up developmental studies, compare typical and different atypical populations and use experimental training paradigms as well as neuroscientific techniques in children and adults to investigate the SL mechanisms underlying mathematical abilities.

Your function:

  • Conduct high-quality scientific research (mostly experimental and longitudinal studies) about the cognitive (neuro)scientific fundamentals of mathematical development, with the prospect of obtaining a PhD in Psychological Sciences.
  • Publish the results in peer-reviewed scientific journals and present the results at (inter)national conferences.
  • Supervise research activities of master students within your area of expertise.

Your profile:

  • You obtained a Master’s degree in Psychology, Speech and Language Therapy, Cognitive Science, Educational Science or any related discipline. Also final year master students are invited to apply.
  • You obtained good grades for your Master’s degree.
  • You have a marked interest in conducting scientific research and you are eager to learn the entire research cycle: conception, operationalization, data collection, data analysis and publication of findings.
  • You are a good spoken and written communicator.
  • You have basic spoken and written proficiency in English.
  • You have good social skills and are comfortable functioning withing a team.
  • You work autonomously, quality-oriented and with integrity.
  • Previous experience with research methods or statistical analysis techniques is a plus.

Further information:

Please contact bert.reynvoet@kuleuven.be and/or arnaud.szmalec@uclouvain.be

How to apply:

Please send a motivation letter, detailed CV and contact details of at least 2 referent persons to bert.reynvoet@kuleuven.be and arnaud.szmalec@uclouvain.be. Please indicate whether you apply for the KULeuven and/or the UCLouvain position. The deadline is May 31st 2024. The shortlisted candidates will be interviewed in the course of June, 2024.