Project Title: The mechanisms of Working Memory: from neuronal circuits to synapses.

Keywords: working memory, neural activity, cortical micro-circuit, NMDA receptors, calcium imaging, animal behaviour, quantitative data analysis

Project description: This is a unique opportunity for a strongly motivated candidate interested in studying the mechanisms, from synapses to neuronal circuits, underling Working Memory, the cognitive ability to maintain information in the brain during brief periods of time. The candidate will develop an animal model to test the retention of a parametric stimulus in Working Memory. The behaviour will be combined with a cutting-edge large-field calcium imaging technology to simultaneously monitor the activity of large number of individual neurons distributed over several cortical areas. Using our recently established reversible antibody-mediated disruption of NMDA receptor function in mice (Planagumà et al 2015) we will characterize at the behavioural and neural circuit levels, the largely debated role of the NMDA receptor in Working Memory. The candidate will perform quantitative analyses of large data sets using methods from modern statistical analysis and machine learning.

The project will be developed within a collaboration between several investigators in IDIBAPS (Barcelona): Josep Dalmau, MD, PhD, Pablo Jercog PhD, Albert Compte PhD and Jaime de la Rocha PhD. Together, these labs have a strong publication record investigating the neural circuit basis of Working Memory and synaptic receptor mediated autoimmune brain pathologies, and they have extended experience in Calcium imaging, electro-physiology, analysis of behavioural/neuronal data sets and computational modelling. The project is supported by CELLEX foundation and the European Research Council, and will be developed at IDIBAPS, a public biomedical research institute whose mission is to encourage Systems Neuroscience, translational research, and technological progress in the field of Biomedicine. The candidate will enrol in the Biomedicine PhD program of the University of Barcelona.

Candidate profile: Candidates with a very good track record in their undergraduate degree (e.g. biology, physics or psychology), a Master’s in a neuroscience-related discipline and with an interest in cognition, in vivo neuronal imaging, and advanced data analysis techniques are encouraged to apply. Candidates with good oral and written skills in English will be given preference. Previous experience with Calcium imaging, training of rodents or programming (Matlab, Python, etc.) will be highly valued.

Please send CV, a brief statement of career goals and the name of 1-2 referees to: jrochav [at] Candidates will be evaluated starting in March 15th 2016 and until the position is filled. Estimated starting date: between May and September 2016.