brainLENS (Laboratory for Educational NeuroScience) at the University of California, San Francisco combines cutting-edge, cross-disciplinary research methods with a deep passion for maximizing children’s potential in life, particularly stemming from the academic domain.

With a firm belief in interdisciplinary research, we integrate the latest brain imaging techniques, genetic analysis, and computational approaches to examine processes of learning, including acquisition of skills, such as reading, socio-emotional processing, motivation and resilience.

In the spirit of our lab, we aim to share the love of neuroscience with children of all ages, rapidly translate research findings to practice, and collaborate with teachers, clinicians, and families.

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Research Developments

We feel that it is imperative as an educational neuroscience laboratory to translate insights from the laboratory to educational practice and theory.  These translational studies include the complementary use of neuroimaging to predict academic outcome in individual children and fine-tuning current criteria in identifying children with special needs.  We are also beginning to untangle some of the genetic, prenatal, and postnatal environmental influences on developing brain networks, and creating brain network growth charts, much like a doctor would have at their office for height and weight.

We value the importance of examining the interaction not just between the neurobiology of learning and the external environment (e.g., school, peers, family, prenatal, intervention), but also the ‘internal environment’ to optimize learning. ‘Internal environment’ is the environment within ourselves that interacts heavily with society, culture, and the external environment surrounding us.  Motivation, resiliency, self-concept, and stereotype threat (i.e., the belief or fear of confirming a negative perception of a particular social group, e.g. racial minorities, with which one identifies) are some examples of factors contributing to an individual’s ‘internal environment’.  Neuroscience research may help dissect these into better-defined socio-emotional and cognitive constructs and assess their impact on learning, which may in turn lead to more targeted curricula, instructional approaches, and interventions.

Finally, in collaboration with research teams from around the globe, we are deeply committed to research that improves the health and lives of a number of clinical populations, such as those with learning disabilities, mood disorders, autism, fragile X syndrome, and Klinefelter syndrome.

For more information regarding the lab, contact Professor Fumiko Hoeft at info@brainlens.org.