PhD Position in Structural and Functional MRI of Brain Plasticity in Second Language Acquisition

Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften
Leipzig, Germany (DE)
February 18 2019
PhD 05/19
Organization Type

The Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS, Leipzig, Germany) has an opening for a

PhD Position in Structural and Functional MRI of Brain Plasticity in Second Language Acquisition

A doctoral position has become available in the Department of Neuropsychology, Director Prof. Angela D. Friederici, at the MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, in a project led by Dr Alfred Anwander and Dr Tomás Goucha. The department focuses on the functional architecture of language and its neuroanatomical basis in the adult and developing brain.

The successful candidate will work in a multidisciplinary team studying multimodal plasticity of the adult human brain during the acquisition of German as a second language using functional, structural, and diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). By characterising the functional and structural reorganisation of the brain networks, this large-scale longitudinal project aims at elucidating the neural mechanisms underlying learning and their respective individual differences.

The PhD candidate will have the opportunity to work on functional and structural longitudinal changes in the brain in a large cohort attending an intensive language training course, using quantitative MRI acquired in several waves. The structural analysis is focused on cortical grey matter (cortical thickness and surface area) as well as myelination. The longitudinal functional task fMRI experiment assesses grammatical and semantic processing of German as a second language. The candidate is expected to integrate these results with measures of language learning and cognitive function as a part of an extensive longitudinal behavioural assessment. This implies acquiring more in-depth skills in modelling multidimensional data sets (e.g. using latent variables), also integrating results from different imaging modalities.

The student will operate in a unique world-class research environment and have access to cutting-edge hardware including 7T, 3T and Connectom MRI scanners, and EEG/MEG equipment. The candidate will have the opportunity to cooperate with Institute members from different disciplines, including psychology, engineering, medicine, and neuroscience.

Applicants must hold a Master’s degree or equivalent in cognitive neuroscience or psychology, engineering, or a related field. A background in human neuroscience, brain image or signal analysis, and programming experience is expected. It would be advantageous if candidates are able to demonstrate their ability to conduct scientific work, ideally with publications.

The position is available to start at the soonest possible date. It is funded for three years, and remuneration is based on the pay scale of the Max Planck Society.

The Max Planck Society is committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in its workforce and therefore encourages applications from such qualified individuals.

To apply, please include the following documents as a single PDF file: CV, contact information of two references, academic certificates, a personal statement describing your qualifications and research interests, as well as your reason for applying. Please submit your application via our online system at (using subject heading “PhD 05/19”). The position will remain open until filled.

Applicants are encouraged to contact Dr A. Anwander/Dr T. Goucha (anwander/ for more details concerning the position. For more information regarding the project: