PhD position

Neurophysiology of visual cognitive processes in Non-Human Primates

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Testing the causal role of the parietal cortex in vision/cognitive processes interactions.


Our group studies cortical mechanisms of cognitive control in non-human primates (NHP, macaque and marmoset monkeys). We specialize in training NHP to perform sets of cognitive tasks and recording/analyzing extra cellular neuronal activity in large populations of distributed cortical networks. Adapting our behavior to ever changing environment requires to constantly compare sensory representation and internally generated, goal-directed representations of our needs and expectations. For example, when looking for a friend in a crowd, we compare visual representation of each objects (extracted within the hierarchy of visual areas) to internally generated representation of our friend. Such behavior engages a large set of cortical and sub cortical areas, and involves several cognitive processes such as working memory and decision-making. Our research group aims at understanding how different sources of information are integrated and compared in order to facilitate decision-making processes. We recently proposed that a network of cortical areas, including parietal and prefrontal cortices, interact with sensory visual cortex when comparing what we are looking at (sensory information), to what we are looking for (working memory information). We routinely record simultaneously the activity of populations of PFC, V4 and LIP neurons in macaque monkeys performing complex decision making tasks.
This project aims at testing the causal role of the parietal cortex in the above mentioned mechanisms and its influence on the rest of the network.
Two macaque monkeys are already trained to perform a modified delayed match to sample task. They are implanted with recording devices. This project will consist in assessing (i) the role of the parietal cortex in controlling monkeys behavior and (ii) its influence on the activity of V4 and PFC neuronal responses. To do so, we will reversibly inactivate the parietal cortex while simultaneously recording the activity of prefrontal and visual cortex.
During this Phd, selected student must (i) get familiar with the relevant scientific literature; (ii) set-up the inactivation protocol and acquire data; (iii) analyze data. She/he will learn state-of-the-art methods for training/manipulating NHP and for recording and analyzing extracellular activity related to cognitive mechanisms.

Nature de finanement

A*Midex or Labex

Desired profile

Candidates should:
(a) have strong notions of cognitive neurosciences and show record of highest grades. Experience in animal research in general and with NHP in particular is recommended but is not mandatory. We are looking for a convinced experimentalist.
(b) have a solid experience in programming (Matlab, Python), statistics and data analysis.
(c) be able to collaborate with other students/post docs.


Our research group (1 PI, 3 Phd students, 1 ingeenier) is part of the Invibe Team (Inference in Visual Behavior), at the Institut de Neurosciences de la Timone (INT) in Marseille, France. INT is a CNRS-Aix Marseille University research institut.

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