Investigating neural networks in consciousness

Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience group (SILS, University of Amsterdam)

This project is to investigate neural networks that modulate conscious experience.


Background of research project:
How consciousness arises in the brain is still a mystery. Many theories of consciousness have attempted to predict the underlying neural mechanisms. However, some theories are incompatible, suggesting different neural mechanisms to develop consciousness. Among those, we will be testing three contrasting theories of consciousness: integrated information theory, active inference, and neurorepresentationalism. By performing neural manipulation (optogenetics) and recording neuroimaging data (calcium imaging and electrophysiology), we aim to elucidate contributions of certain neural population to predictions of consciousness.


Student’s role in the project:
We will perform behavioral training on a visual detection task and conduct optogenetics experiments together with calcium imaging and electrophysiological recordings. We are looking for a highly motivated master’s student who will: 1) be in charge of daily behavioral training, 2) assist in optogenetics / calcium imaging / electrophysiology experiments, 3) assist in surgeries (e.g., headbar implantation), 4) perform histology to examine opsin expression using fluorescent microscopy, 5) analyze neural data in Python. 50% of student’s task will be experimental and the other 50% neural data analyses.


Requirements: Previous experience with programming is required (Python, Matlab, or equivalent). The student must be able to do programming independently. No other prior skills or knowledge are strictly needed for this internship position. However, the willingness to learn animal experiments (animal training, optogenetics, calcium imaging, electrophysiology, etc.) is a must. Students without biological background are also welcome.



Duration: 6-12 months (minimum 6 months but flexible afterwards)

Start date: September 2024 approximately

Supervisors: Kengo Takahashi (Postdoc) and Umberto Olcese (Associate Professor)

Institute: Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, University of Amsterdam

Location: Science Park, Amsterdam

Lab: Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience (


If you would like to apply, please send your CV, grades, and a short motivation to Kengo Takahashi ( Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!

To apply for this job please visit