Wednesday, 04 April 2018

Two 3-year Marie Skłodowska-Curie PhD positions in Milan, Italy


The Mind-Development Baby Lab (MinDevLAB, of the Department of Psychology, University of Milan-Bicocca (Italy), is offering two 3-year fully funded PhD studentships to be supervised by Professors Chiara Turati and Hermann Bulf.

The project is part of the Mobile Technology for Infant Social-Cognitive Neuroscience (MOTION) Interdisciplinary Training Network for Innovative Infancy Research, a European Commission ITN project exploring infants’ and toddlers’ actions, gaze direction, and brain activity as they actively explore the world around them. ITNs are international collaborative research and training networks involving several University and private sector partners.

The University of Milan-Bicocca is particularly responsible for developing the following 2 research projects.

1. Understanding social interactions in the first years of life. This project will use innovative mobile technologies to document the developmental trajectory of the ability to understand others’ interactions in natural settings, like prosocial behaviours (such as sharing, helping, and comforting) and affective interpersonal touch, thus adding remarkable findings to the social development research field. We will explore when during development and how infants recognise the nature (prosocial, affective) of interpersonal interactions and whether this information can shape infants’ and toddlers’ behaviour towards others and their environment. To achieve this goal, innovative behavioural and neurophysiological techniques will be used alone or in combination.

2. Infant development of emotional mimicry. This project will investigate how infants engaged in social interactions understand others’ emotional behaviors. Using high-density EEG and sEMG, we will test whether imitative or inclusive behaviors are capable to modulate neural processing of facial emotional expressions and facial mimicry responses early in development. Measuring infants’ scanning strategies through an eye-tracking system, we will also assess how the ability to extract statistical regularities from imitative facial expressions is affected by the sociality of the interactions.

The successful applicants will receive a competitive salary. As part of their training, successful candidates will be ask to spend some months and develop fruitful collaborations with the other network partners, all having a strong international focus and considered leaders in the cognitive and social development research field.

The successful candidates will have Masters-level training in Psychology, Cognitive Science, or Cognitive Neuroscience. We encourage application from candidates with research training in developmental psychology, and especially experience in conducting research with human infants using behavioral and/or physiological measures. Experience with infant eye-movement, sEMG and EEG recording methodologies and/or data analysis is a plus. However, we recognize the rarity of such a combination of skills and will consider applicants with strong willingness and aptitude to learn and develop in the desired area.

Important mobility constraints apply: Successful applicants cannot have resided in Italy for more than 12 months in the past 36 months. The position must be taken up no later than October 1st, 2018. A cover letter stating the motivation of the application, as well as a CV and reference letter should be sent to Prof. Chiara Turati (, clearly stating that they wish to be considered for the Marie Skłodowska-Curie PhD positions. The initial closing date for the positions will be April 20th 2018, but applications will continue to be considered until suitable candidates have been appointed.

Further details and informal enquiries can be obtained from: