Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Aging Research Center, ARC

Do you want to contribute to top quality medical research?

To be a licentiate student means to devote oneself to a research project under supervision of experienced researchers and following an individual study plan. For a licentiate degree, the equivalent of two years of full-time doctoral education is required.

.The research group

Aging Research Center ( is one of the divisions at the NVS Department, located at KI campus Solna. The Aging Research Center is a multidisciplinary academic environment, representing psychology, sociology, and various branches of medicine (e.g., neurology, epidemiology, and psychiatry). In the psychology sector of the center, we examine brain correlates of cognitive aging and seek to understand how genetic and lifestyle factors shape development of brain and cognition in adulthood and old age. We approach these research questions with small-scale neuroimaging studies, large-scale intervention (e.g., training) studies, and large-scale population-based longitudinal studies. Our research group consists of senior researchers, postdocs, and doctoral students.

The licentiate student project and the duties of the student

Depression is one of the main causes of disability worldwide. Stress is an established risk factor for depression, but we lack a mechanistic understanding of how stress exposure results in depression in vulnerable individuals. Anhedonia is a cardinal symptom of depression and relates to reduced incentive motivation, reinforcement learning, and reward-based decision-making. In animal models of stress-induced anhedonia, the behavioral and neural effects of stress depend on the level of perceived controllability over the stressor. For example, in rats, acute painful stimulation results in striatal dopamine release and active avoidance, but these behavioral and neural responses are blunted when painful stimulation is not avoidable. In humans, acute stress impairs decision-making, but it remains unknown how these cognitive effects are modulated by stress controllability. Moreover, it is unknown how cognitive adaptations to uncontrollable stress underpin the expression of depressive symptoms in vulnerable individuals.


In the current project, the student will employ a newly designed battery of decision-making tasks and computational modelling to test whether it is possible to measure independent behavioral markers reflecting two different aspects of dopamine function, namely reinforcement learning (the ability to learn the value of different actions based on the rewards they lead to) and incentive motivation (the ability to invigorate the chosen actions). Moreover, the student will test whether high levels of self-reported uncontrollable stress are associated to these behavioral markers of dopamine function and expression of depressive symptoms. This project will contribute to elucidate the computational and neural mechanisms by which uncontrollable stress impacts decision-making abilities in healthy participants.

What do we offer?

A creative and inspiring environment full of expertise and curiosity. Karolinska Institutet is one of the world's leading medical universities. Our vision is to pursue the development of knowledge about life and to promote a better health for all. At Karolinska Institutet, we conduct successful medical research and hold the largest range of medical education in Sweden. As a doctoral student you are offered an individual research project, a well-educated supervisor, a vast range of elective courses and the opportunity to work in a leading research group. Karolinska Institutet collaborates with prominent universities from all around the world, which ensures opportunities for international exchanges. You will be employed on a doctoral studentship which means that you receive a contractual salary. Employees also have access to our modern gym for free and receive reimbursements for medical care.

Eligibility requirements for doctoral education (licentiate)

In order to participate in the selection for a doctoral position (licentiate), you must meet the following general (A) and specific (B) eligibility requirements at latest by the application deadline.

It is your responsibility to certify eligibility by following the instructions on the web page Entry requirements (eligibility) for doctoral education.

A) General eligibility requirement

You meet the general eligibility requirement for doctoral/third-cycle/PhD education if you:

  1. have been awarded a second-cycle/advanced/master qualification (i.e. master degree), or
  2. have satisfied the requirements for courses comprising at least 240 credits of which at least 60 credits were awarded in the advanced/second-cycle/master level, or
  3. have acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad.*

Follow the instructions on the web page Entry requirements (eligibility) for doctoral education.

*If you claim equivalent knowledge, follow the instructions on the web page Assessing equivalent knowledge for general eligibility for doctoral education.


B) Specific eligibility requirement

You meet the specific eligibility requirement for doctoral/third-cycle/PhD education if you:

- Show proficiency in English equivalent to the course English B/English 6 at Swedish upper secondary school.

Follow the instructions on the web page English language requirements for doctoral education.

Verification of your documents Karolinska Institutet checks the authenticity of your documents. Karolinska Institutet reserves the right to revoke admission if supporting documents are discovered to be fraudulent. Submission of false documents is a violation of Swedish law and is considered grounds for legal action.

(A) and (B) can only be certified by the documentation requirement for doctoral education.

Skills and personal qualities

We are looking for a highly motivated licentiate student who is efficient, thorough, and enjoys working in an international and dynamic multidisciplinary team.



  • Applicants should have second-cycle background in neuroscience, cognitive science, psychology, or

some other relevant area

  • Prior knowledge in neuroscience and cognitive psychology
  • Experience in recruiting participants and data collection
  • Computer programming ability (particularly in Matlab and R)
  • Tools for web development (JavaScript)
  • Good communicator in English (both orally and in writing)



  • Experience in computational modelling of behavioral data

Terms and conditions

The licentiate student will be employed on a licentiate studentship maximum 2 years full-time.

Application process

Submit your application and supporting documents through the Varbi recruitment system. Use the button in the top right corner and follow the instructions. We prefer that your application is written in English, but you can also apply in Swedish.

Your application must contain the following documents:

- A personal letter and a curriculum vitae
- Degree projects and previous publications, if any
- Any other documentation showing the desirable skills and personal qualities described above
- Documents certifying your general eligibility (see A above)
- Documents certifying your specific eligibility (see B above)


A selection will be made among eligible applicants on the basis of the ability to benefit from doctoral education. The qualifications of the applicants will be evaluated on an overall basis.

Karolinska Institutet uses the following bases of assessment:

- Documented subject knowledge of relevance to the area of research
- Analytical skill
- Other documented knowledge or experience that may be relevant to doctoral studies in the subject.

All applicants will be informed when the recruitment is completed.

Aging Research Center (ARC) | Karolinska Institutet (

Guitart-Masip Team | Karolinska Institutet (


Want to make a difference? Join us and contribute to better health for all

Type of employment PhD placement
Contract type Full time
First day of employment According to the agreement
Salary Monthly salary
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100
City Stockholm
County Stockholms län
Country Sweden
Reference number STÖD 2-349/2024
Union representative
  • Henry Wölling, SEKO,
  • Taher Darreh-Shori, SACO,
  • Carina Eklund, OFR, 08-58582665
Published 30.Jan.2024
Last application date 20.Feb.2024 11:59 PM CET

Return to job vacancies