The German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) is a world-leading internationally oriented research center, committed to discovering new approaches to prevent and treat neurodegenerative diseases. To this end, researchers at ten DZNE sites across Germany pursue a translational and interdisciplinary strategy comprising five interconnected areas: fundamental research, clinical research, health care research, population health science, and systems medicine.

PhD student (f/m/x) on spatial coding in old age

Code: 4054/2022/5

Your tasks

One 4-year PhD position is available in the Aging, Cognition & Technology group, headed by Prof. Thomas Wolbers. In this project, we will characterise how human aging affects computations in key parts of the human navigation network, in particular brain structures hosting grid and head direction cells. In addition, a novel cohort of so-called Superagers allows for conducting unique studies with older people with exceptional memory abilities. Using a combination of cutting‐edge interactive virtual reality (VR) systems and ultra-high field neuroimaging, you will develop innovative VR paradigms and use computational models to generate novel predictions of spatial coding. Importantly, the successful candidate will be encouraged to develop their own research interests, and, if desired, they can be involved in teaching activities.

In addition to hosting research dedicated 3T and 7T MRI scanners, the Magdeburg site of the DZNE, where the group is based, provides access to EEG, MEG, TMS and eye tracking systems. Furthermore, we have a range of cutting-edge VR setups, and we entertain multiple collaborations in Europe and North America. Finally, Magdeburg University has recently established a unique research center on Neural Resources of Cognition, which provides ample opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations.


For this position, excellent statistical skills and a strong interest in cognitive aging and computational modelling are a plus. Furthermore, you will have, or be in the final stages of, a BSc/MSc in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, neuroimaging methods or applied statistics. Ideally, you should already possess computer programming skills (e.g. in Python, R, Matlab). You will be thorough, efficient, a good communicator, and enjoy working as part of an international and dynamic team. 

The position is available from 01 October 2022. Interested candidates should submit their applications including a CV, a letter stating research interests and two of the usual references.

For further information about this position, please email Thomas Wolbers ( To learn more about our research, please visit our website and follow us on Twitter (@WolbersLab).

Further reading

Segen V, Ying J, Morgan E, Brandon M, Wolbers T (2022) Path integration in normal aging and Alzheimer’s

disease. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 26:142–158.

Diersch, N., Valdes-Herrera, J.P., Tempelmann, C., Wolbers T. (2021). Increased hippocampal excitability and

altered learning dynamics mediate cognitive mapping deficits in human aging. Journal of Neuroscience, 


Stangl, M., Achtzehn, J., Huber, K., Dietrich, C., Tempelmann, C., & Wolbers, T. (2018). Compromised grid-cell-

like representations in old age as a key mechanism to explain age-related navigational deficits. Current Biology, 28(7), 1108-1115.


Apply now



Contact details

Prof. Thomas Wolbers

Working hours


Contract length


Payment, social benefits

consistent with those at other research institutes

Application deadline

July 10th, 2022

The DZNE is an equal opportunity employer. It is committed to employing disabled individuals and especially encourages them to apply. You will obtain special skills and knowledge for your scientific qualification during your activities at DZNE. We would like to point out that as an employee (f/m/x) of the DZNE Magdeburg, you are subject to the facility-related compulsory vaccination against the COVID-19 virus (according to § 20a of the Infection Protection Act).