PhD position in Psycholinguistics: memory-impaired seniors & language learning


Faculty of Arts


University of Groningen

Since its foundation in 1614, the University of Groningen has established an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative research university offering high-quality teaching and research. Its 31,000 students are encouraged to develop their own individual talents through challenging study and career paths, under the guidance of the university’s 5,600 staff members. The University of Groningen is an international center of knowledge: it belongs to the best research universities in Europe and is currently in the top 100 of several influential world ranking lists.

Embedded within the University of Groningen, the Faculty of Arts is one of the larger faculties, comprising over 5,000 students and 700 employees. The dynamicity of the Faculty is reflected in no other Arts Faculty in the Netherlands housing more members of the prestigious Young Academy of the Dutch Academy for Arts and Sciences (KNAW) than Groningen does. The Faculty is also home to three research institutes, among which the Center for Language and Cognition Groningen (CLCG), home to all linguistics research of the Faculty. The Graduate School for the Humanities (GSH) is the institutional home of all PhD candidates of the Faculty of Arts, and is committed to creating and maintaining excellent conditions for PhD research in all fields of the humanities. In addition to organizing local courses, the GSH works closely with national schools like the National Research School Linguistics (LOT), which offers regular courses and seminars by national and international top researchers. The linguistics PhD students of the Faculty are also affiliated with the Interdisciplinary Research School for Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience (BCN) in Groningen.

Job description

We offer one PhD position (1.0 FTE) in psycholinguistics at the Faculty of Arts in Groningen. The PhD position is one of two PhD positions embedded in the Vidi project Language Learning Never Gets Old: Foreign language learning as a tool to promote healthy aging (PI: Merel Keijzer). The aim of the PhD project is to assess the effect of foreign language learning on the cognitive reserve of preclinical elderly. It has been suggested that foreign language learning can boost the cognitive flexibility of elders, most pertinently early-stage Alzheimer patients (Antoniou et al., 2013). This study therefore targets seniors (n=50; 65+) who experience memory problems and compares their cognitive flexibility and wellbeing following a cognitive language learning intervention to that of healthy seniors (also n=50). The PhD project also compares foreign language learning as a therapy to other forms of cognitive intervention, most notably music training and creative workshops. It does so on the basis of behavioral cognitive tasks as well as eyetracking data as a proxy of cognitive effort.

The PhD project and the Vidi project as a whole are embedded within the Bilingualism and Aging Lab (BALAB:, currently hosting 2 other PhD projects on the topic of bilingual aging and 5 Master and Research Master projects.

For a detailed project proposal, please email the PI of this project and envisaged supervisor Merel Keijzer:


We are looking for a talented and ambitious researcher in the relevant discipline, who is committed to conducting independent and original scientific research. The following qualifications apply:
• a (Research) Master's degree in linguistics, cognitive psychology or neuroscience of linguistics (or related discipline)
• proven research abilities and affinity with the research topic
• proven experience with R and advanced statistical analysis techniques
• experience with cognitive test batteries and eyetracking techniques is an asset
• excellent command of oral and written academic English
• proven team science abilities
• willingness to further pursue courses and training in relevant and related disciplines.

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 48 months.

We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:
- a salary of € 2,325 gross per month in the first year up to € 2,972 gross per month in the fourth year of the appointment (figures based on full employment, salary scales Dutch universities).
- a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income
- an 8.3% end-of-the-year allowance

The 1.0 FTE appointment is temporary for a specified period of four years. The candidate will first be employed for 12 months. After nine months, a formal assessment (stop/go) will take place based on the candidate’s progress until that time.

Please send your entire application (in English) as a single PDF-file until 9 June 11:59 p.m. / before 10 June 2019 Dutch local time (CEST) by means of the application form (click on ‘Apply’ below on the advertisement on the university website).

Please upload your entire application as a single PDF-file under “Letter of Motivation attachment”.

Do you meet our qualification criteria? If yes, your application should include:
1. a cover letter of no more than 1,000 words introducing yourself, describing your motivation to conduct scientific research, and locating your research within the CLCG
2. a full CV demonstrating academic excellence, including publications and presentations (if applicable)
3. a certified scan or copy of your MA diploma (or equivalent degree) and academic record (transcripts)
4. names and contact details of two academic references
5. an academic writing sample: thesis or (course) paper.

Interviews with selected candidates will take place in the first week of July 2019. Intended starting date of the project: 1 October 2019.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our University. We are committed to building a diverse faculty so you are encouraged to apply. Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP), and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers,

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

Prof. M.C.J. Keijzer (for questions regarding the project)

Prof. C.J.W. Zwart (for questions regarding the Graduate School for the Humanities)

Ms M. Wubbolts, M.A. (for questions regarding the submission procedure)

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 219295

Digital application form