May 2023

PhD position on the neural basis of thermoception

The project will be carried out 2 years in UCLouvain (Brussels, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert) and 2 years in KU Leuven. In UCLouvain, the PhD candidate will work under the direct supervision of Prof. Giulia Liberati (, who has extensive expertise in scalp and intracerebral electroencephalography, as well as in the processing of thermal input. At KU Leuven Prof. Jan Van den Stock ( and Lukas Van Oudenhove ( will be the supervisors. Their respective fields of expertise relate to social cognition in neurodegeneration and gut-brain psychobiology, including interoception.


Thermoception refers to the sensation of temperature differences derived from heat flux. It is a particular modality of interoception, which covers all sensations related to the state of the body. There is accumulating evidence that interoception contributes to how social cues are perceived and interpreted, i.e. social cognition. Deficits in social cognition are a hallmark of frontotemporal dementia (FTD), a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by behavioral changes but also thermoceptive deficits. Importantly, all these concepts (thermoception, interoception, social cognition and FTD) share a neuroanatomical basis in which the insular cortex plays a key role. This project will investigate thermoception by means of intracerebral electroencephalography (iEEG) in epileptic patients with electrodes implanted in the insula (performed at UCLouvain). This sample of epileptic patients and a new sample of FTD patients will also take part in a task-based functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and behavioral assessment of interoception and social cognition (performed at UCLouvain/KU Leuven). This combination of center-specific techniques and expertise allows obtaining optimal focal temporal and spatial resolution, together with coverage of neural responses across the whole brain. The project will provide innovative insights into the neural mechanisms underlying thermoception, the role of thermoception and interoception in social cognition, and the pathophysiology of FTD. Furthermore, the project may lay the basis for a long term collaboration between the respective research groups.


We are looking for a highly motivated candidate with a master’s degree in neuroscience, biomedical sciences, medicine, psychology, or related fields. Since the position will be available starting from October 2023, candidates who expect to have obtained their master’s degree before this date can also apply.

Candidates with experience in one or more of the following are  highly encouraged to apply: EEG, fMRI, interoception,thermal/somatosensory stimulation. Experience or affiliation with neurologic or neuropsychiatric populations, as well as programming skills are a plus.

The official language of the involved labs is English, but since the project requires extensive work with patient populations, fluency in French and knowledge of Dutch are an asset.


We offer a full-time PhD position in a 4-year research project, starting from October 2023.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Jan Van den Stock, tel.: +32 16 37 78 43, mail: or Prof. dr. Lukas Van Oudenhove, tel.: +32 16 33 01 47, mail:
You can apply for this job no later than July 01, 2023 via the online application tool