Sep. 6, 2019
Research Scientist Position
Lukas Ian Schmitt, Lab. for Distributed Cognitive Processing（W19124)
Laboratory for Distributed Cognitive Processing, Center for Brain Science,（Laboratory head：Lukas Ian Schmitt）
Biology, Computational Science, Interdisciplinary
Systems Neuroscience, Computational Neuroscience
The laboratory for distributed cognitive processing (which will begin operations on Jan 1st 2020) will focus on investigating how an internal model of the world is maintained and updated within neural circuits. Although we generally perceive the world as stable, information reaching the brain from the senses is often disconnected and ambiguous. This suggests that perception involves some form of predictive model that incorporates recent information to more effectively interpret and respond to current inputs. This kind of implicit internal model is thought to involve short-term maintenance of information enabled by interactions between multiple cortical and thalamic circuits. My team will seek to better understand these critical interactions by focusing on three major avenues of research. First, we will investigate the circuit basis of short-term information storages across multiple cortical regions and the roles such storage plays in cognitive function. Second, we will determine how the perturbation of thalamic functions may contribute to disruption of short-term storage and to assess how this might contribute to cognitive dysfunction in psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders. Third, by identifying principles of thalamocortical interaction involved in cognitive function we will seek to identify novel computational architectures useful in improving the design of artificial intelligence networks.
To address these questions, my team will take a multi-disciplinary approach combining optogenetic methods to causally manipulate neural circuits and electrophysiological recording techniques to assess neural activity with behavioral tasks designed to engage cognitive functions. This combined approach allows us to identify the activity in multiple brain regions that underlies behavior and to mechanistically dissect network interactions that produce this activity, providing substantial insight into how cognition works.
Job title and description
Job title, available positions
Research Scientist 1 position(s)
Postdoctoral Researcher is defined as those with a doctoral degree of 5 years or less.
Research Scientist/Contract Researcher is defined as those with a doctoral degree more than 5 years.
The successful candidate will take the lead in generating analytical and computational approaches to investigate neural implementations of cognitive processes such as attentional control and working memory in the context of hierarchical decision making. This work will be done in collaboration with experimentalists conducting high density neural recordings combined with optogenetic methods using new behavioral paradigms designed to assess how animals generalize based on past sensory experience. The candidate will be expected to assess neural dynamics and potentially model the circuits involved model based on physiological data as well as to participate in optimizing experimental approaches based on observations and predictions spurring from their theoretical/analytical work.
We seek a highly motivated researcher with an interest in understanding complex cognitive functions like attention and sensory decision-making as well as experience applying analytical approaches and computational modeling methods to understand neural data. Applicants should have a Ph.D. in a relevant field (e.g., Neuroscience, Computational Neuroscience, Computer Science, Math, Physics). Proficiency in programming (e.g., MATLAB, Python) is necessary. Applicants must be comfortable working in an international setting where the primary language of communication is English.
A strong quantitative background is required as is the ability to self-direct and modify project goals based on observed results. Direct experience with the analysis of extracellular recordings of spiking neurons and/or with machine learning based approaches is also preferred.
Branch and address
RIKEN Wako (2-1 Hirosawa, Wako, Saitama 351-0198）
Salary and benefits
- A one-year fixed-term employment contract, renewable based on evaluation, to a maximum of the end of the fiscal year (March 31) in which the employee completes 7 years of employment.
- RIKEN may adjust the above maximum period of renewability based on a) the employee’s abilities, work load at the time of contract completion, performance and work attitude and b) the continuation of the employee’s center, laboratory or project and RIKEN’s management situation and budget at the time. In principle, employment contracts will not be renewed for individuals older than 65 years.
- The employee’s period of fixed-term employment cannot exceed 10 years from the initial date of hire (or 10 years from April 1, 2013 for fixed-term employees already at RIKEN prior to this date).
In principle, there will be a trial period of employment (2 months).
Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience. Commuting and housing allowances will be provided. Social insurance will be applied. Mandatory membership in the RIKEN Mutual Benefit Society (RIKEN Kyosaikai).
This position falls under the specialized duties discretionary work system; one working day will be calculated as 7 hours and 30 minutes.
Days off include public holidays, New Year's holidays (Dec. 29 - Jan 3), and RIKEN Foundation Day.
These and other provisions are in accordance with RIKEN regulations.
RIKEN is promoting a Gender Equity Program by taking various measures to create a workplace where both men and women are able to give full rein to their talents and abilities. When applicants are judged to be equally qualified on the basis of fair and impartial criteria, women applicants will be given preference.
Also, eligible for an exemption from repayment for category 1 scholarship loans provided by the Japan Student Services Organization before fiscal year 2003, and eligible applying for the MEXT Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (Kakenhi).
Application and required documents
- Complete CV (with photo and email address) WORD(56KB) or EXCEL(159KB)
*Write the RIKEN job ad number “W19124”, indicated in the parentheses next to the job title, in the RIKEN job ad number section in the upper right corner of your CV.
- List of research achievements and publications
- External funding awarded
- Summary of research experience to date
- Reason for applying for the post (personal strengths motivation, future research plans, career aspirations, etc. )
- 2 letters of recommendation (including one from the current supervisor, if available)
- Consent form for handling personal information based on GDPR
If you are a resident of the European Economic Area (EEA), you are required to submit the document, “Consent form for handling personal information based on GDPR” with your signature.
*You will find detailed information about General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on the following website:
How to apply
Send the PDF formatted application by email to lukas.schmitt[at]ml.riken.jp
(Recommendation letters must be emailed directly from the reference to lukas.schmitt[at]ml.riken.jp)
Application documents will not be returned.
Open until the position is filled
Handling personal data
Application screening, interview and oral presentation by selected applicants
Start of employment
January 1st, 2020 (Negotiable)
Contact information/Send application to
RIKEN Center for Brain Science
Laboratory/Research Unit for distributed cognitive processing
2-1 Hirosawa, Wako, Saitama 351-0198
Email: lukas.schmitt[at]ml.riken.jp (Replace [at] with @ )
For inquiries, please send an email.