PhD position opening in Spatial Cognition Team in Marseilles


Title: On Uncharted Space In Animals (OUSIA)

Supervisors: HOK Vincent & SAVE Etienne

Laboratory: Laboratory of Cognitive Neurosciences (UMR7291),

Project background: One of the most studied neurophysiological substrates of spatial cognition is the hippocampal place cell system. Place cells are pyramidal neurons selectively activated when the animal is in certain regions of the environment (place fields). The spatial organization of place fields across a population of place cells is characteristic of a given environment. Additionally, hippocampal place cells show sequential reactivations during sleep, a phenomenon called “replay”. During replay, hippocampal place cells that fired during exposure to an environment are orderly reactivated so that the initial experience is recapitulated over a very brief period of time, a process thought to reflect an offline consolidation mechanism. Recent studies investigating the role of visual areas in spatial cognition showed a clear place selectivity of primary visual cortical (V1) neurons in rodents and, more importantly, showed that these neurons displayed also robust replay. In line with these results, we recently discovered neurons in the dorsal Lateral Geniculate Nucleus (dLGN – thalamic structure located one synapse upstream of the primary visual area) that show spatial-selective firing properties very similar to hippocampal place cells.

Objectives: Based on these results, we hypothesise that the dLGN supports a much more integrative function that initially thought. The objective of this project is thus to investigate the functional network including V1, dLGN and Superior Colliculus that we believe to be instrumental in learning and memory processes. In particular, we will examine whether dLGN neurons show replay. We will also investigate inter-structural functional interactions by inactivating V1 or SC and observe these effects on dLGN neuronal activity. In order to address these questions, we will characterize more precisely dLGN place cell specific properties and investigate brain connectivity networks that underlie memory formation using behavioural, pharmacological and electrophysiological analyses.

Expected candidate profile: Candidates should have in-depth training in all aspects of the integrated research, at both the conceptual and technological levels in a range of modern methods and technologies, including stereotaxic surgery, single cell recording in vivo, local field potentials and oscillations recording in vivo and behaviour analysis.

Send via email, in electronic form (PDF, as SINGLE document), your application including:

1. CV

2. letter stating research interests

3. certificates of university degrees

4. two letters of reference.

Job Information

Application closing date: 2018-07-01. Job opening date: 2018-10-01. Contract duration: 3 years. Institution: Aix-Marseille University. Department: Laboratory of Cognitive Neurosciences, UMR 7291, Aix-Marseille Univ, CNRS.

Contact Information

Vincent Hok – LNC LABORATOIRE DE NEUROSCIENCES COGNITIVES Aix-Marseille Université – Saint Charles – 3 Place Victor Hugo – 13003 Marseille Phone: +33(0)4 13 55 09 07 Website: Email:

Etienne Save – LNC LABORATOIRE DE NEUROSCIENCES COGNITIVES Aix-Marseille Université – Saint Charles – 3 Place Victor Hugo – 13003 Marseille Phone: +33(0)4 13 55 09 44 Website: Email: