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PhD position - neuroimaging of brain activity with natural paradigms: movies, stories in sign language.

My team is looking for a person who will continue our current research on brain plasticity in deaf individuals. This work uses natural stimuli, for example, in our last experiment, we used half-hour animated movie without dialogue (“The triplets of Belleville”). We offer a possibility to work on a PhD using this novel and exciting research method (see Hasson et al., Projections, 2008Baldassano et al.., 2017) that uses techniques such as machine learning and Hidden Markov Modelling, in a strong, international scientific team.  

The research will be a continuation of our previous work on mechanisms of brain plasticity in deaf individuals (Bola et al., 2017Zimmermann et al., 2021). We plan to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The project will be carried out in cooperation with the team of prof. Christopher Baldassano (Columbia University, NYC, www.dpmlab.org/), the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology PAN In Warsaw (prof. Artur Marchewka, lobi.nencki.gov.pl/) and with the Research Laboratory on Polish Sign Language on University of Warsaw (team of prof. Piotr Tomaszewski). 

The position is at Institute of Psychology at Jagiellonian University in Cracow and must lead to a preparation and a defense of a PhD thesis under my supervision. The salary is 4000 PLN/month (scholarship), payable under a grant from the National Science Center (NCN). The winner of the competition will be required to submit a parallel application to the PhD program in the School of Social Sciences at the Jagiellonian University (https://social-sciences.phd.uj.edu.pl/en_GB/). Securing entry into the Doctoral School will be associated with additional funding. 

Expectations towards candidates: 

1. Programming skills (especially experience with Python or Matlab) and statistical skills. Advanced mathematical and programming skills would be an advantage (bioinformatics, mathematics, physics, engineering, etc.). 

2. Knowledge of English language. Knowledge of spoken Polish as well as of Polish Sign Language would be an advantage, however it is not required. 

4. Mobility: candidate will be obligated to stay few weeks per year abroad (travels on the expense of the laboratory). 

5. Appreciated but not required: experience in advanced image analysis and/or time series analysis and experience in designing and analyzing psychological experiments, especially fMRI experiments. 

Candidate must either hold a Masters’ or equivalent degree or be a last year Masters’ student in a fields such as: psychology, neurobiology, biology, physics, computer science, biophysics, bioinformatics, mathematics, engineering and other related.

Interested candidates are encouraged to send a CV and contact details (phone number/email) of a person that could provide an opinion about a candidate (thesis supervisor, lecturer of a favorite class) to m.szwed@uj.edu.pl. Applications will be reviewed until a suitable candidate will be selected. The project start date is flexible, however June or September 2023 is preferred. 

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100 scans performed in the Neurosmog project!

We are pleased to announce that the hundredth child was tested in the NeuroSmog project under the supervision of Marcin Szwed. In this project, the team is studying the neural changes in developing brains caused by air pollution. To read more about this project visit the website. Many people were involved in carrying out the testing, including parents and children themselves, who often travel from far away, only to be tested in the Neurosmog project. Congratulations!

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New publication of the team

Overlap between visual and tactile number representations

A new article of the Szwed Lab has been published in the Scientific Reports journal. This study continues the previous project on numerical cognition. The participants were sighted people who can read Braille - a very unique population. Katarzyna Rączy studied the processing of numbers perceived in visual and tactile modalities, this time using the MRI technique. For more information please see the publication.

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Maria Skłodowska and Pierre Curie Polish–French Scientific Award

Professor Marcin Szwed and professor Laurent Cohen (Brain & Spine Institute, Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle épinière—ICM) have received the first, Maria Skłodowska and Pierre Curie Polish–French Scientific Award for joint research analysing brain mechanisms of reading: their neuronal foundations, genesis, and intercultural and intermodal nature. The cooperation began in 2007 and has resulted in experiments in the field of neurobiology reported by them in seven articles.

From the left: prof. Laurent Cohen, prof. Maciej Żylicz - President of the Foundation for Polish Science, prof. Olivier Pirroneau - Vice-President French Academie des Sciences, dr hab. Marcin Szwed


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Najnowsza publikacja zespołu

Wspólna reprezentacja neuronalna liczb brajlowskich i arabskich

How does brain process numbers presented in tactile modality? Katarzyna Rączy from the Szwed Lab had a great opportunity to perform research on the unique group of sighted Braille readers. The publication can be found in the Acta Psychological Journal, January 2020. The project investigated how tactile number information is processed. Because of the unique group of participants in this experiment, researchers were also able to have a closer look into the similarities and differences in the processing of visual and tactile number processing. For more details, see the publication.


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Conference ESCOP 2019

At the end of September the team of SzwedLab participated in the European Society for Cognitive Psychology meeting. It took place on a beautiful island Tenerife. We had an opportunity to discuss newest results with our collaborators and to get valuable feedback from many other participants. Marcin Szwed and Maria Zimmermann presented the work of the team in talks, 2 posters were also presented. We met and discussed our recent results on cross-modal number processing experiments with our long-time collaborator Olivier Collignon and his team (CCP-Lab, Institute of Psychology, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium) as well as with our expert on numerical cognition Andre Knops (University Paris Descartes & University Sorbonne Paris Cité, France).

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Recent publication of SzwedLab

Involvement of the Visual Cortex in Tactile Recognition

Is visual cortex involved in tactile perception of Braille letters? This question has been asked in the newest publication of the SzwedLab's member Łukasz Bola. The results of the TMS experiment performed on unique group of participants - sighted Braille readers will be published in Neuroimage. Results of the study show involvement of sighted people’s visual cortices in tactile perception. Moreover the involvement respects the canonical visual hierarchy — the early tactile processing involve the early visual cortex, whereas more advanced tactile computations involve high-level visual areas. The article will be released in November 2019.

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The impact of air pollution on the developing brain

We are happy to inform that The Foundation for Polish Science has awarded Marcin Szwed with a new grant. The project combines four scientific teams in the fields of pollution assessment, child psychology, neuroimaging and epidemiology with the common goal of determining the impact of ambient air pollution on the developing brain in school age children. Neurosmog will be investigating the effects of air pollution on behavioural and neural changes in school-age children. For more information, please see the link.

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New grant awarded to SzwedLab

We are happy to inform, that a new grant has been awarded to Marcin Szwed. The project will be in line with the previous work of the lab and will consider neuroplasticity in the sensory deprived brain. The aim of the grant is to engage in the nature vs. nurture debate through the study of cognitive plasticity in blind and deaf has been awarded by the Polish National Science Centre. For further information on the subject, please see the website of NSC.

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A visit in the National Center for Scientific Research/Sorbonne, Paris

At the beginning of December 2018, the Szwedlab number processing team visited the Laboratory for the Psychology of Child Development and Education in Paris (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/Sorbonne). At the Sorbonne, we consulted mathematical cognition projects with our longtime colleague - Andre Knops. We also had the opportunity to visit the office in which Jean Piaget himself worked between 1952-64.

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The Blind Workshop

In October 2018 a group of representatives of the lab participated in the The Blind Brain Workshop in Lucca, Italy. Overall purpose of The Blind Brain Workshop is to highlight how the view of the brain has changed from the study of the sensory deprived model. Marcin Szwed presented the work of the lab in a speech titled "The blind cortex, the deaf cortex: between task-specificity and new capacities". Maria Zimmermann presented her work on rhythm processing. Participants had an opportunity to learn about the research of the greatest specialists of the field of neuroplasticity. For more information please see the website of the conference.

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An Interview with Marcin Szwed

Ja My Oni magazine published an interview with Marcin Szwed. Agnieszka Sowa asks Marcin Szwed about neuroplasticity and how the brain adjusts to its owner's needs.

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Professor Amedi, Neuronus 2018

Professor Amir Amedi visited Kraków. He has been invited to Neuronus IBRO Neuroscience Forum 2018 as a keynote guest. During his lecture he talked participants through this recent work. He was talking about brain plasticity and how it is possible to 'see' using sounds. If you want to read more, please visit Professor Amedis' lab website.

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New publication in Scientific Reports

Read our newest publication appeared in Scientific Reports about cross-modal plasticity and structural changes in early visual cortex due to an intensive Braille training in healthy adults entitled Structural reorganization of the early visual cortex following Braille training in sighted adults. The authors are Łukasz Bola, Kasia Siuda-Krzywicka, Małgorzata Paplińska, Ewa Sumera, Marysia Zimmermann, Katarzyna Jednoróg, Artur Marchewka, and Marcin Szwed.

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Mobilność Plus post-doc fellowship for Łukasz Bola

Łukasz Bola has just recieved the prestigeous Mobilność Plus fellowship, which will allow him to continue his research in a two year post-doc position at Alfonso Caramazza's Cognitive Neuropsychology Lab at the Harvard University. He will be working on the neuroplasticity of the auditory cortex due to sustained training of new skills or the loss of hearing.

This is the third prestigeous award, that Łukasz has received this year: he is also an awardee of the FNP Start stipend given to outstanding young scientists and has recieved the Etiuda V. doctoral scholarship from the National Science Centre.


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Jak mózg widzi rytm? Rozmowa z dr. hab. Marcinem Szwedem

Audycja TOK FM

Rozmowa dr hab. Marcina Szweda z Cezarym Łasiczką w programie OFF Czarek.

01. 09. 2017

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New commentary in PNAS

Read the commentary of Marcin Szwed, Łukasz Bola and Maria Zimmermann entitled Whether the hearing brain hears it or the deaf brain sees it, it’s just the same on cross-modal plasticity that comments on the article of Benetti et al. (2017) which appeared in the latest PNAS.
Published Date: 27.07.2017
Published by: Marianna Boros

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Jerzy Konorski Award for the article Massive cortical reorganization in sighted Braille readers

The article Massive cortical reorganization in sighted Braille readers by Katarzyna Siuda-Krzywicka, Łukasz Bola, Małgorzata Paplińska, Ewa Sumera, Katarzyna Jednoróg, Artur Marchewka, Magdalena W. Śliwińska, Amir Amedi, Marcin Szwed, which appeared last year in Elife, 2016 Mar 15; 5:e10762. doi. 10.7554/eLife.10762 was awarded the prestigous Jerzy Konorski Award, funded by the Polish Society for the Research on the Nervous System and the Neurobiological Comitte of the Polish Academy of Science.



Source: http://www.ptbun.org.pl/?a=news_all

Published Date: 06.07.2017
Published by: Marianna Boros

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Dlaczego śnimy?

Tok fm

Dr hab. Marcin Szwed rozmawiał z Karoliną Głowacką o tym dlaczego i jak śnimy.

20. 05. 2017


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Task Selectivity as a Comprehensive Principle for Brain Organization

A comentary on our recent findings in TICS

Amir Amedi writes extensively about our recent findings concerning Task-Selective Sensory-Independent (TSSI) brain organization in Trends in Cognitive Science:

"do TSSI organization and its driving principles extend in humans beyond ‘visual’ regions to other high-ordersensory cortices?

The recent study by Bola and colleagues provides crucial evidence supporting an affirmative answer to this question, ultimately bridging the gap between humans and animal studies..."



Published Date: 06.04.2017
Published by: Marcin Szwed

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New publication in PNAS

In their recent paper entiteled Task-specific reorganization of the auditory cortex in deaf humans the authors Łukasz Bola, Marysia Zimmermann, Piotr Mostowski, Katarzyna Jednoróg, Artur Marchewka, Paweł Rutkowski and Marcin Szwed describe their finding that the brain area activated by hearing people while perceiving rhythmic auditory beeps is also used by deaf people to perceive rhythmic visual flashes. This exciting result shows the remarkable ability of the human brain cortex to switch from one sense (hearing) to another (vision) while keeping the same function (sensing rhythm).

You can read the article here.

Published Date: 11.01.2017
Published by: Marianna Boros

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NCN 2016 Award

Marcin Szwed is the winner of the National Centre 2016 Award in the field of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Our lab leader was awarded this prestigeuos prize for large-scale research on the plasticity of the human brain in people with impaired eyesight and hearing. Under his supervision our group has been successful in disproving some long-standing theses on the division of the brain into separate sense-related parts.  

Check out the presentation of Marcin's work (in Polish).



Published Date: 16.10.2016
Published by: Marianna Boros