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PhD Position - Sense of Agency and Stress in Functional Neurological Disorders 100% - 100% | befristet

Universität Bern

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PhD Position - Sense of Agency and Stress in Functional Neurological Disorders 100% - 100% | befristet

PhD Position - Sense of Agency and Stress in Functional Neurological Disorders

Functional neurological disorders (FND), formerly called hysteria (by Hippocrates), represent a frequent disorder at the border between neurology and psychiatry. Patients present with neurological symptoms (e.g., paralysis, tremor) in the absence of a neurological disease such as stroke, tumour or epilepsy.
With the recent technological development in biomedical sciences, the concept of impaired sense of agency (i.e., the sense that we are the agents in control of our actions and sensation) during motor and sensory processing has been put forward in understanding how the symptoms are produced. Meanwhile, the role of psychological stress has been better delineated in understanding why the disorder occurs.

Who we are
We are the Aybek FND Group, a multidisciplinary team where medical doctors, biomedical engineers and neuropsychologists collaborate in order to shed light on the neural mechanisms of FND.
The group leader is Prof. Dr. med Selma Aybek, an expert in the field of FND research (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=selma+aybek).

We are based in Bern (CH), and we are affiliated with the Department of Neurology (University Hospital Inselspital Bern, CH), the University Institute for Diagnostic and Interventional Neuroradiology (University Hospital Inselspital Bern, CH) and the University of Bern (CH).

We are looking for an autonomous and self-motivated PhD Student who will entail different technological methods, such as non-invasive brain stimulation techniques (e.g., transcranial magnetic stimulation – TMS), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), analysis of biomarkers (e.g., blood, saliva), and neuropsychological tests, in order to investigate the role of stress in FND.

Main Tasks will be:
  • to design and implement study protocols for research with humans, both healthy and affected by FND
  • to collect and analyse behavioural data, as well as neuroimaging (e.g., fMRI), and biomarkers of stress
  • to publish the results in peer-reviewed, high impact journals
  • to contribute to overall growth and visibility of the team
Key features of the position:
  • Background in Neuroscience, Neuropsychology, Biomedical Engineering, or similar disciplines
  • Basic knowledge of data analysis and programming (e.g., Matlab environment)
  • Interest in a multidisciplinary environment, with focus on patients and clinical applications
  • Fluent German is desirable, but not mandatory
We offer
We offer a highly dynamic environment. The PhD student will be fully integrated in the team, will join the weekly lab meetings, and will be given the opportunity for a scientific growth at the State-of-the-Art standards of research.

We have active collaborations with experts in the field of neuroimaging (Prof. Roland Wiest, University Institute for Diagnostic and Interventional Neuroradiology, Inselspital Bern) and non-invasive brain stimulation (Prof. René Müri, Department of Neurology, Inselspital Bern).
For any question about the position, please feel free to contact Dr. Giuseppe Zito (giuseppe.zito@unige.ch, +41 31 632 02 98) or Prof. Dr. med Selma Aybek (selma.aybek@insel.ch, +41 31 632 66 07)
Please, send your complete application (CV, motivation letter, reference letter, table with grades, supporting documents) via email to Dr. Zito or Prof. Aybek.

We look forward to receiving your application!!
The position is available from the beginning of 2019, the starting date can be discussed. The duration is fixed at three years (100%).