Open PhD position at the University of Bern

The Theoretical Neuroscience Group of the University of Bern is seeking applications for a PhD position , funded by a Swiss National Science Foundation grant titled “Why Spikes?”.

This project aims at answering a nearly century-old question in Neuroscience: “What are spikes good for?”. Indeed, since the discovery of action potentials by Lord Adrian in 1926, it has remained largely unknown what the benefits of spiking neurons are, when compared to analog neurons. Traditionally, it has been argued that spikes are good for long-distance communication or for temporally precise computation. However, there is no systematic study that quantitatively compares the communication as well as the computational benefits of spiking neuron w.r.t analog neurons. The aim of the project is to systematically quantify the benefits of spiking at various levels by developing and analyzing appropriate mathematical models.

The PhD student will be supervised by Prof. Jean-Pascal Pfister (Theoretical Neuroscience Group, Department of Physiology, University of Bern). The project will involve close collaborations within a highly motivated team as well as regular exchange of ideas with the other theory groups at the institute.

The PhD candidates should hold a Master degree in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Computational Neuroscience, Neuroscience or a related field. She/he should have keen interests in developing theories that can be tested experimentally. Preference will be given to candidates with strong mathematical and programming skills. Expertise in stochastic dynamical systems, point processes, control theory, information theory and nonlinear Bayesian filtering will be a plus.

The applicant should submit a CV (including contacts of two referees), a statement of research interests, marks obtained for the Master, and the abstract of the Master thesis in electronic format to Jean-Pascal Pfister ( ).

The position is offered for a period of three years and can be extended. Salary scale is provided by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

The application deadline is August 8, 2024 , or until the position is filled.