Job opportunities

Simon Thorpe will have a number of PhD and postdoc positions in his group in the next few years thanks to financing from an ERC Advanced Grant as well as other funding from the French Agence National de Recherche (ANR). The ERC project (“M4 – Memory Mechanisms in Man and Machine”) aims to understand how we can recognize visual and auditory stimuli that we have not experienced for decades. The existence of these extremely long duration memories is a major challenge because it is unclear how such memories can be stored in neural hardware. We will be exploring a number of radical suggestions, including the idea that such memories involve the formation of highly selective “grandmother cells” in the neocortex, and the idea that many of these neurons may be totally inactive under normal conditions – a sort of neocortical “Dark Matter”. These are two ideas that are currently extremely controversial.

We are looking for people to work on this groundbreaking and interdisciplinary project with a wide range of backgrounds including psychology, neuroscience, computational modeling and even hardware development. We will be developing novel experimental paradigms to study the formation and maintenance of very long term sensory memories. These will be combined with imaging techniques including fMRI imaging, EEG, and intracerebral recording from epileptic patients. In parallel, computer simulations using very large-scale networks of spiking neurons equipped with Spike-Time Dependent Plasticity will attempt to explain the experimental results, but also used to develop bio-inspired hardware systems that can reproduce the learning capacity of the brain using novel memristor-based technologies.


–          Ph.D positions in Cognitive Science, Cognitive Psychology and Computer Science. Positions will normally start in Fall 2013, Fall 2014, and Fall 2015.

–          Postdoc positions in Cognitive Science, Cognitive Psychology and Computer Science for an initial period of 1 year with the possibility of extension, starting anytime from now to 2015.


The ability to work both individually and as a member of an interdisciplinary team is a strong prerequisite together with proficiency in both written and spoken English.

Different complementary profiles are required. Both students and researchers with a psychological background or with a strong background in computer science, mathematics, and engineering are encouraged to apply.

The ideal candidates will have an interest in memory, vision and attention and prior experience in one or more of the following areas:

–          Psychophysics: research design, data collection and analysis

–          Programming, familiarity with MATLAB

–          Eye movement recordings

–          Intracranial recordings

–          fMRI data analysis and programming

–          Image processing and computer vision

–          Neural network simulation techniques

–          Hands-on statistical skills

Job Details

Salary will be in accordance with CNRS norms: €1430 per month for a PhD and a take-home salary of between €2030 and €3250 for a postdoc, depending on experience. In addition, the French system adds additional payments for health, pension and social security contributions, totaling over €1000 per month for a student, and between €1600 and €2500 for a postdoc.

Research will be performed on the Purpan hospital site in Toulouse France, mainly at the CerCo lab:

Pavillon Baudot  – CHU Purpan

BP 25202 – 31052 Toulouse Cedex.

How to Apply

Interested candidates should send a CV, a brief statement of research and development interests, and the names and contact details of two references by e-mail to: Simon Thorpe and Nadège Macé ( with subject “PhD-M4” or “Postdoc- M4”.

More information

On the lab:

On the position: ask Nadège Macé,

On the project:

–          10 provocative claims of this M4 project

–          For more information, ask Simon Thorpe


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