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A study of neuro-economic processes of food avoidance and social anxiety in Anorexia Nervosa. (M/W)

This offer is available in the following languages:
Français - Anglais

Date Limite Candidature : mercredi 6 juillet 2022

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General information

Reference : UMR5229-LEOTRE-006
Workplace : BRON
Date of publication : Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Scientific Responsible name : Léon Tremblay
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 3 October 2022
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly

Description of the thesis topic

This interdisciplinary thesis between Biological Sciences and Social Sciences of Economics aims to determine the cerebral and behavioral bases of disturbance in decision-making processes in patients with Anorexia Nervosa. The PhD student will be in charge to build and carry out behavioral tasks in the field of Neuroeconomics to understand the decision-making mechanisms underlying the phenomenon of food avoidance, in terms of cost/benefit ratio or loss aversions. He or she will seek to determine how avoidance strategies arise, how they evolve, how they are influenced by the social context and whether they are confined to themselves or not? This behavioral part of the thesis project will be under the supervision of Professor Villeval, specialist in behavioral economics approaches and co-director of this thesis project. The PhD student will be responsible for the behavioral acquisitions on the control subjects as well as the patients with Anorexia in coordination with the TCA reference center of St-Etienne (leaded by Pr Galusca). He/she will also be responsible for processing behavioral data that will be linked with PET-MRI imaging acquisitions to determine abnormalities in serotonin transmission inside subcortical regions involved in decision-making and eating behaviors. The PhD student will be responsible for carrying out the analysis of the results to lead them to the writing and publication of one or two scientific articles.

The ideal candidate must possess:
- Knowledge in Cognitive Sciences or Economics of decision-making processes,
- Knowledge of the human brain anatomy and behavioral Neurosciences,
- Skills in task programming and statistical data analysis.
- Skills to work with patients and control subjects.
- Disposition to teamwork and be regular and well organized allowing to do collaborative work.
- Fluency in written English.

Work Context

The Pathophysiology of Basal Ganglia (BG) team is specialized in the study of neurological (Parkinson's disease, Tourette's syndrome) and psychiatric disorders (impulsivity, anxiety and food intake disorders), resulting from dysfunctions of these subcortical structures. This team, led by Dr Tremblay, has clearly demonstrated the involvement of these subcortical structures in many behavioral disorders resulting from dysfunctions in motivational processes and decision-making. This team is part of the "Institut des Sciences Cognitives Marc Jeannerod" (ISCMJ) which is located on Vinatier site, in Bron. This laboratory has access to the CERMEP brain imaging platform, located a 5-minute walk from the Institute. It is on this imaging platform that multimodal imaging acquisitions on patients and control subjects, which will be carried out on one of the rare hybrid cameras that can simultaneously perform acquisitions by Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and functional MRI.

This project supported by the "Mission d'Initiatives Transversales et Interdisciplinaires" (MITI) of CNRS will be carried out in close interaction with Pr. Villeval who leads the GATE team, specialized in decision-making mechanisms by using experimental approaches to behavioral economics. The association of research approach from the Neurosciences (Tremblay Team) and Behavioral economic(Villeval Team) to study the maladapted choices of patients with Anorexia Nervosa compared to control subjects, will be an ideal thematic base to train a young researcher into the interdisciplinary field of Neuroeconomics. Noted that this project is part of a collaborative project between Dr. Tremblay, Pr. Galusca (TCA Center in St-Etienne) and Pr. Zimmer (CERMEP), which is funded by the National Research Agency (ANR) for 4 years. This guarantees the financial resources to carry out the experiments of this thesis project over 3 years of studies leading to "PhD in Cognitive Neurosciences".

The ISCMJ, the UMR-5229 CNRS research unit to which Dr. Tremblay's team belongs, encourages interaction and collaboration between research teams, with weekly seminars, several social activities and scientific exchanges on the Neurosciences of normal and pathological behaviors. For its part, the GATE team leaded by MC Villeval, also seeks to promote interaction and exchanges between research teams from different disciplines, as shown by this codirected thesis project between our teams from the Labex Cortex consortium. The PhD student will therefore be able to take advantage of this environment of interdisciplinary exchanges and will have the mission of being a front-line player via this Neuro-Economics thesis project.

Constraints and risks

PET imaging involves injections of radioactive tracers, injected on the animals at low dose without risk for the experimenter. However, the PhD student will be checked for their exposure level to radioactivity during each scan.

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