PhD position (m/f/d) | Neurocognition of Music and Language

Scientist Frankfurt am Main
Cultural Studies Social Sciences Cognitive Research Linguistics

Job Code: PhD Neuromus

Job Offer from March 17, 2021

The Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt/Main, Germany, investigates the attentional, cognitive, and affective mechanisms of aesthetic perception and evaluation. The Research Group Neurocognition of Music and Language invites applications for a PhD position (m/f/d) fixed term (36 months), salary scale 13 TVöD 65%.

The Research Group Neurocognition of Music and Language (headed by Daniela Sammler) explores the multiple links between music and language in perception and production using neuroscientific methods and various populations (healthy adults, neurological patients, professional musicians etc.).

The PhD candidate will study how listeners neurally represent musical and prosodic information. Building on sound morphing and natural listening combined with fMRI and/or EEG/MEG, the project will investigate how prosodic pitch and musical sounds are encoded in the brain and at which points in time. Goal is to model prosody perception from sound to meaning (Sammler et al., 2015; Hellbernd & Sammler, 2018), and to explore the generalizability of these mechanisms to music perception.

The successful candidate holds a Master’s degree (or equivalent) in psychology, cognitive and/or neuroscience, or a related field. High proficiency in oral and written English is necessary. A solid methods background (statistics and programming in Matlab or Python) as well as prior experience with either fMRI or EEG/MEG and/or the use of machine learning techniques (MVPA, RSA or else) are highly desirable. Background in linguistics (especially phonology) or music is helpful, but no requirement. Most importantly, the successful applicant will share our enthusiasm for music and language and their neural underpinnings.

The position will begin in the second half of 2021 and is initially limited to three years. The selection process will continue until the position is filled. Salary is based on the pay scale of the Max Planck Society.

The research will be conducted at MPI for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt/Main with access to two Siemens 3T MRI scanners, a 275-channel CTF MEG system, and several EEG suites. All facilities are supported by experienced IT and physicist staff. Analyses are carried out on the Institute’s high-performance cluster. We offer an interesting and interdisciplinary field of activity in an international scientific environment, with English and German being the languages spoken in the laboratory. The Institute is located in an attractive location with excellent infrastructure in Frankfurt’s Westend. You can expect a modern equipped workplace with flexible working hours and a pleasant working atmosphere. For further details on Dr. Sammler’s research, see Research Group Neurocognition of Music and Language

The Max Planck Society strives for gender equality and diversity. We are also committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in our workforce. Therefore, applicants of all backgrounds are welcome.

Your application should include: your detailed CV; a cover letter that explains why the lab’s research and pursuing a doctoral degree interests you and how your skills and abilities are suitable; copies of relevant degrees and/or certificates; a short summary of your Master’s thesis (one page); names and contact information of two references who have previously agreed to be contacted.

Please send these materials all together in a single PDF file, before April 25, 2021, by e-mail to using the code “PhD Neuromus” in the subject. 

Please feel free to contact  or Dr. Sammler if you have any enquiries.

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