Human Brain Imaging to explore network interactions in the aging brain

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
December 22, 2022
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Human Brain Imaging to explore network interactions in the aging brain

(ref. BAP-2022-802)

Last modification : Monday, November 21, 2022

Within the context of a collaboration between the REVAL Rehabilitation Research group of Hasselt University and the translational MRI unit of KU Leuven, we wish to inform about a vacant PhD position (100%) in Neuroscience concerning underlying mechanisms in motor control in healthy aging. REVAL is an interdisciplinary and translational research group which performs research in the domains of pediatric, neurologic and musculoskeletal rehabilitation, biomechanics, health psychology, mental health care and rehabilitation of internal diseases. The translational MRI unit at KU Leuven offers state-of the-art neuroimaging facilities and investigates the functional and structural organization of the normal and pathological human brain by the combination of functional MRI and diffusion tensor imaging.

Project

Normal aging is associated with a decline in motor functions, impacting quality of life and the ability to live independently. These functional changes are partly caused by age-related changes in the brain. However, it remains unclear how age-related changes in brain structure, function, and connectivity affect motor performance. Here, we study how age-related alterations in structural and functional brain interactions may account for deficits in motor behavior. On the one hand, we focus on the interaction between dedicated brain areas constituting the motor network involved in movement control. These interactions will be investigated within as well as across both hemispheres of the brain. On the other hand, we adopt a more global perspective by looking into age-related changes in the interactions among the different resting-state networks to arrive at a measure of neural dedifferentiation. Finally, we embark on training-induced neuroplasticity in the aging brain and study (a) which structural and functional brain measures predict future learning and (b) how both behavioral and brain measures are altered as a result of learning. This research project requires deployment of multimodal medical imaging. We aim at contributing to the fundamental motor neuroscience of aging and to a body of knowledge that may inspire future training programs that alleviate or counteract functional decline with advancing age.

Profile
  • You have a master in biomedical sciences, rehabilitation sciences, human movement sciences, psychology, medicine, engineering, computer sciences (or equivalent).
  • You have experience/ a strong interest in human brain imaging.
  • Knowledge of the Dutch language is a plus.

  • You have excellent academic grades.

  • You are willing to contribute to external funding applications.

  • You have interest/experience with computer programming (such as MATLAB, Python, etc.)

  • You have knowledge on the design, execution and analysis of experimental research.

  • You have strong problem-solving skills, flexibility, organizational capacity and stress resistance.

  • You have excellent communication skills in English, both oral and written.

  • You are willing to contribute to a positive working atmosphere and are able to connect with the different domains and collaborators (practical assistants, PhD students, postdoctoral students and professors).

  • Offer

    You will be appointed and paid as PhD student. Position for 2 years. After positive evaluation one time extendable with 2 years. Position at Hasselt University and KU Leuven.

    Interested?

    For more information please contact Prof. dr. Koen Cuypers, +32-11-269316, koen.cuypers@uhasselt.be, Prof. dr. Stefan Sunaert, +32-16-347754, stefan.sunaert@kuleuven.be or Prof. dr. Raf Meesen, +32-11-292124, raf.meesen@uhasselt.be.

    The selection procedure consists of a preselection based on application file and an interview. A presentation or assignment is a possibility.

    KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.

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