Cécile Gal

PhD Student




Dr Teodora Gliga (University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK)
Dr Marie Smith (Birkbeck, University of London, UK)
Dr Eng. Raul Mureșan (Transylvanian Institute of Neuroscience, Cluj-Napoca, Romania)

Research interests

My work during my PhD examines the neural dynamics of motivated learning. I study how we acquire an intrinsic motivation to seek for information in order learn from our environment. Particularly, I am interested in how these abilities develop in childhood and why actively engaging profits to learning. To this end, I conduct experiments using EEG and eye-tracking measures in both developing and adult populations. My time in split between two labs in London (UK) and Cluj-Napoca (Romania).

My PhD project is one of five within the INTERLEARN European Industrial Doctorate programme – Individualised Interventions in Learning: Bridging Advanced Learning Science and 21st Century Technology. It is funded by a 3-year Marie Sklodowska-Curie Industrial Training Network grant (European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, grant agreement No 721895).

Research experience

2016-2017 (1 year)
Research Assistant.
École Normale Supérieure (ENS, Paris, France), Institut d’Études Cognitives, Cognitive Science and Psycholinguistics Laboratory, Brain and Consciousness Team.
Principal Investigator: Prof. S. Kouider.

2016 (6 months)
2nd-year Masters student.
Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle épinière (ICM, Paris, France), UMR7225, Social and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory.Supervisors: Dr S. Dubal & Prof. B. Millet.
Temporal integration of social and emotional cues in Social Anxiety Disorder.

2015 (6 months)
MSc student.
University College London Ear Institute (London, UK), Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience (Chait) Laboratory.
Supervisors: Dr N. Barascud & Prof. M. Chait.
Neural representations of regularities in sound sequences.

 2014 (1 month)
3rd-year undergraduate student.
Centre de Psychiatrie et de Neurosciences (CPN, Paris, France), Sainte-Anne Hospital, UMR894, Genetic and Clinical Vulnerability to Addictive and Psychiatric Disorders (Gorwood) Team.
Supervisor: Dr N. Ramoz.
Identification of genetic markers of vulnerability to Anorexia Nervosa.

2013 (2 months)
2nd-year undergraduate student.
University Pierre and Marie Curie (UPMC, Paris, France), UR4, Inflammatory Physiopathology of Chondrocyte (Tenenbaum) Team.
Supervisor: Dr X. Houard.
Topic: mechanisms of angiogenesis in osteoarthritis.


PhD in Psychology – INTERLEARN programme
Birkbeck, University of London (UK).
Marie Sklodowska-Curie European Doctoral programme.

Dual Masters in Brain and Mind Science (MSc & Master).
University College London (UCL, London), University Pierre and Marie Curie (UPMC, Paris) and École Normale Supérieure (ENS, Paris).
2-year multidisciplinary program based in London (year 1) and Paris (year 2).

Licence (BSc) in Bioscience, double major Chemistry and Biology.
University Pierre and Marie Curie (UPMC, Paris).
3-year bi-disciplinary program.


R. Southwell*, A. Baumann*, C. Gal*, N. Barascud, K. Friston, M. Chait (2017). Is predictability salient? A story of attentional capture by auditory patterns. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. (*Equal contribution to the study.)


C. Gal, V. V. Moca, I. Tincas, M. Smith, T. Gliga, R. Muresan (2018). Dynamics of information sampling during the recognition of altered visual objects. ETF2018: Multi-Disciplinary Developmental Dynamics (Norwich, UK).

R. Southwell, A. Baumann, C. Gal, N. Barascud, K. Friston, M. Chait (2016). Attentional Capture by Acoustic Patterns. Cognitive Neuroscience Society Annual Meeting, New-York (NY, USA, presented by R. Southwell).


Birkbeck University of London, European Commission - Marie Curie Doctoral fellowship

Marie Sklodowska Curie Industrial Training Network 3-year funding (European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, grant agreement No 721895).

Sorbonne Universities - Excellence scholarship

Scholarship for a year of studies outside of France (MSc student at UCL, London). Awarded based on academic standing.

Public engagement

Member of the French student association Cognivence (2015-2017):

- organiser of the 2016-2017 Cognitive Round-tables (monthly journal clubs for students in Cognitive Science within the region of Paris),

- co-organiser of the Cognitive Science Forum: a national event for cognitive science dissemination attended by an estimated 3,000 people in 2016 and organised by French students in the field (member of the communication committee for the 16th edition and volunteer staff for the 15th edition).

Other Contact

Transylvanian Institute of Neuroscience (TINS)
Str. Ploiești 33
400157 Cluj-Napoca – Romania