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Capturing early heterogeneity in dyslexia by using modality-specific, naturalistic and neurostructural paradigms (ref. BAP-2024-421)

The Dyslexia Research Collaboration (DYSCO) of KU Leuven is a collaboration on dyslexia research between the labs of Parenting and Special Education (Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences) and Experimental ORL (Dept. Neurosciences, Faculty of Medicine). Parenting and Special Education (Pol Ghesquière) is one of the main centres of expertise regarding (specific) learning disabilities in Flanders, with an extended international network and reputation. ExpORL is internationally recognised for its hearing-related research (Jan Wouters) and speech- and language-related research (Maaike Vandermosten). DYSCO is internationally known for applying a multi-level (cognitive + neural) approach in longitudinal designs, starting from a preliterate age all through primary school. To be able to test such young children, DYSCO has focused on gamification and digitalization of reading-related assessment and on child-friendly neuroimaging protocols, which has been applied in hundreds pre-readers and is a powerful tool for the proposed project. Within this collaboration, each (co-)promoter has his/her own expertise, making interdisciplinary research possible.

Unit website: https://gbiomed.kuleuven.be/en...

Project

Dyslexia (i.e., severe and persistent deficit in reading) is characterized by large heterogeneity in underlying neurocognitive impairments. While studies prior to reading onset inform us on the causes of dyslexia, no such studies have assessed a sufficiently wide range of factors in one individual to capture this heterogeneity. Therefore, we start up a new longitudinal study (N=120; from pre- to early reading), where we capture (the dynamics of) multiple factors underlying reading in each child using behavioral, EEG and functional MRI assessment with auditory–visual and naturalistic paradigms. Second, we derive data-driven profiles based on existing and new structural brain data in preliterate children (N=400). These profiles will be mapped to early neurocognitive deficits, developmental trajectories and later reading. Our approach could change how we identify and support reading difficulties, with interventions that are individually tailored to the neurocognitive profile.

We search for three PhD students: (1) one PhD student focusing on behavioral (visual - auditory processing) in dyslexia, (2) one PhD student focusing on EEG (visual - auditory - naturalistic) in dyslexia, and (3) one PhD student focusing on MRI (naturalistic fMRI and structural MRI).

Profile

The DYSCO research collaboration of the KU Leuven, University of Leuven, Belgium, is looking for 3 candidates with:

  • A strong interest in dyslexia, developmental cognitive neuroscience and interdisciplinary work.
  • An excellent Master degree in speech and language pathology, educational science, (cognitive) neuroscience, (neuro)psychology, biomedical engineering, experimental psychology, or related disciplines. Students who graduate in June or August 2024 are also welcome to apply.
  • Good English and Dutch proficiency (data collection is in Dutch).
  • Good programming skills (or at least high willingness to learn).
  • Having experience with MRI and EEG techniques and/or with dyslexia is an asset.
  • An inquisitive and creative mind, excellent problem solving skills.
  • Strong commitment and the ability to work in an interdisciplinary team.
  • Ability to work flexibly and independently.

Offer

  • Fulltime PhD position for an initial year, renewable for up to 4 years.
  • Salary is competitive and in accordance with university standards.
  • Membership of two renowned labs, as part of a motivated interdisciplinary team (Vandermosten – Ghesquière– Wouters), with an extensive international network.
  • Membership of the Leuven Brain Institute at the KU Leuven, one of the largest research universities of Europe.
  • Membership of KU Leuven, one of the largest research universities of Europe.
  • The possibility to take part in international conferences and collaborations.
  • Starting date is October 2024 or as soon as an excellent candidate shows up.

For more information please contact Prof. dr. Maaike Vandermosten (maaike.vandermosten@kuleuven.be), Prof. dr. Pol Ghesquière (pol.ghesquiere@kuleuven.be) or Prof. dr. Jan Wouters (jan.wouters@kuleuven.be).

Applications should be submitted through the electronic application system of KU Leuven, providing a motivation letter, full CV (including detailed university study results), and contact information of at least two referees.

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments.

You can apply for this job no later than October 01, 2024 via the online application tool

Apply before: 02/10/2024

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