Conscious perception and arousal

Website Consious Brain Lab, University of Amsterdam

When: Start in September 2024

How long: preferably at least 5 months

Who: Sean van Mil ( and Margot Steijger (


Have you always wanted to know more about consciousness?

As PhD students at the Conscious Brain Lab we investigate conscious perception with a variety of (neuro)imaging techniques, manipulations and tasks.During your internship at CBL you will have the opportunity to collect and analyse data, indepently handle participant recruitment, organise and present at journal clubs and attend lab and department-wide meetings.

Currently we have two projects running, both of which include collection of EEG, eye tracking and behavioural data. The first project investigates the effect of low arousal (induced through sleep deprivation) on the well-known Yerkes-Dodson law (Yerkes & Dodson, 1908; Beerendonk, Mejías et al., 2024). This law dictates an inverted U-shaped relationship between arousal and performance, meaning optimal performance at midlevels of arousal. Additionally, we are interested in what differences in neural processing of stimuli give rise to the observed Yerkes-Dodson effect.

The second project focuses on disentangling different stages of neural processing (i.e., feedforward and recurrent processing) using Kanisza illusions, metacognition and decoding of EEG data (Fahrenfort et al., 2017; Noorman et al., 2023). Additionally, through eye tracking we investigate how arousal affects these neural processes. The project will result in a rich data set that allows you to come up with your own research question.

Do these projects interest you, don’t hesitate to contact us! We are happy to elaborate on our research and answer any questions you may have.



  1. Yerkes, & Dodson. (1908). The relation of strength of stimulus to rapidity of habit formation. Journal of Comparative Neurology and Psychology, 18, 459–482.,%20Dodson_1908.pdf
  2. Beerendonk, L., Mejías, J. F., Nuiten, S. A., de Gee, J. W., Fahrenfort, J. J., & van Gaal, S. (2024). A disinhibitory circuit mechanism explains a general principle of peak performance during mid-level arousal. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 121(5), e2312898121.
  3. Fahrenfort, J. J., van Leeuwen, J., Olivers, C. N. L., & Hogendoorn, H. (2017). Perceptual integration without conscious access. PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(14), 3744–3749.
  4. Noorman, S., et al. (2023). Isolating feedforward, lateral, and feedback mechanisms underlying perceptual and attentional impairments of conscious access. bioRxiv, 2023-10.

To apply for this job email your details to