Understanding the dynamic of facial expression decoding mechanisms by means of an electrophysiologic approach by fast periodic visual stimulation.


Being able to quickly read emotional expression from the face is critical for human social interactions. Six facial expressions – fear, disgust, sadness, happiness, angry, surprise – also known as the ‘basic emotions’ have been suggested to be universally recognized (Ekman & Friesen, 1975). Studies on facial emotional processing have produced evidence for impairments in neurological and psychiatric populations, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). However, patients may often compensate on explicit behavioral tasks and fail on implicit face processing tasks, which suggests that they rely less on automatic emotion processing, but employ cognitive, language-based or perceptual compensatory mechanisms.


This PhD proposal will focus on understanding the decoding of facial expression in typical human population by means of the rapid presentation of brief expression changes and the recording of implicit measures with electroencephalography (EEG). Specifically, we will rely on a fast periodic visual stimulation approach (FPVS) during EEG recording. Intracerebral recordings of patients suffering from epilepsy refractory to medication with the same paradigms will aim at understanding the neural basis of facial expression decoding.



The PhD will be supervised by :

  • S. Caharel & J. Lighezzolo-Alnot at the Laboratory INTERPSY at the University of Lorraine in Nancy, France (http://interpsy.univ-lorraine.fr/content/stéphanie-caharel),
    • Stéphanie Caharel, Associate Professor of Neuropsychology, Lab Interpsy (EA 4432), University of Lorraine (stephanie.caharel@univ-lorraine.fr)
    • Joëlle Lighezzolo-Alnot, Professor of Clinical Psychology, Lab Interpsy (EA 4432), University of Lorraine (joelle.lighezzolo@univ-lorraine.fr)-
  • L. Maillard at the CHRU of Nancy for intracerebral recording studies. Studies with the FPVS approach in EEG will be performed in close collaboration with the laboratory of B. Rossion at the University of Louvain in Belgium (http://face-categorization-lab.webnode.com/). CRAN UMR CNRS 7039, Université de Lorraine
    • Louis Maillard, Pr. of Neurology, University Hospital of Nancy, CRAN UMR CNRS 7039, University of Lorraine (l.maillard@chru-nancy.fr)


Main Laboratory: Lab of Psychology “InterPsy” (EA 4432) – Université de Lorraine

Other Lab implied: CRAN (UMR 7039 CNRS – Université de Lorraine)


How to apply

In order to prepare a PhD thesis within the Lorraine Université d’Excellence Program, the interested candidate should consult the PhD topics offered in each social and economic challenges or in “other PhD grants”.
These PhD thesis topics are proposed by faculty members or researchers accredited to supervise research.


Candidate application period: according to graduate school schedule (visit each topic)

Doctoral school: ED 78 Stanislas: http://stanislas.univ-lorraine.fr

To apply, please send application letter, CV, academic results (master’s degree) and two letters of recommendation before June 20, 2016 to the ED 78 Stanislas doctoral school and to Stéphanie Caharel (stephanie.caharel@univ-lorraine.fr) (with ‘PhD application 2016’ as subject line)

Doctoral school director:  Dominique Macaire (dominique.macaire@univ-lorraine.fr)

Secretary:  Véronique Losseroy (ed-stanislas-contact@univ-lorraine.fr)
Each candidate may submit an application on up to three separate research topics.
The graduate school reviews the applicants for a doctoral contract in the relevant disciplines. They check the level of supervision for each supervisor and the situation of trained doctors. Each candidate will meet the laboratory director, supervisor and a representative from the graduate school. This interview is to identify the candidate’s motivations and suitability as a candidate for the PhD project proposed by the supervisor. A recommendation will be made to the graduate school. This will summarize the strengths and/or weaknesses of the application.

PhD grants will include monthly income for the PhD student (roughly 1700 € for research only, complement can be provided for teaching missions) and environment for research in the research unit.

Please be aware that in order to offer a variety of subjects, more positions are posted here than available funding. The LUE executive committee will make the final choice on the granted funding (up to 12 positions), based on the recommendations by the doctoral schools.