Our Research
See below for an overview of the variety of projects happening within our lab.
Current Projects and Collaborations
Learning Success Program - Bilingualism & Literacy Acquisition

We began a large-scale neuroimaging study in 2015 looking at how children learning two (or more) languages learn to read from kindergarten to 3rd grade. Our efforts include Spanish and Chinese speakers learning to read in English and their native languages and English speakers learning to read in English. The goal of this project is to test and evaluate models of literacy acquisition. In addition, we will study the impact that learning multiple languages may have on cognition, socio-emotional skills and creativity.  We ultimately hope to help teachers develop instructional strategies to maximize English language learners’ success in the classroom and beyond.

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Uchikoshi (UC Davis), Leung (USF), Kovelman (U Michigan), McBride-Chang (U Hong Kong), Siegel (U British Columbia), Carreiras (BCBL), Pugh (Haskins),
Family Brain Program - Intergenerational Neuroimaging

This innovative study tests a novel and fundamental question that has not been addressed before: “Are human brain circuitries similar in parent-offspring dyads, and if so does it result from a heritable process, pre or postnatal environment, or as a complex interaction between these processes?” We believe that answering this question will provide us with essential information about the evolutionary basis of the human brain, pathophysiology of brain-based diseases and clues to developing early and preventive interventions of these diseases.

We are inviting biological (regular) families, IVF families and adoptive families to participate in brain scans and paper pencil tests. Click to participate:

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Pasch (UCSF), Prock (Harvard Boston Children's Hospital), Yang (UCSF), Gotlib (Stanford), Dahl (UC Berkeley), Thompson (UCLA), Tottenham (UCLA), Gregg (U Utah), Grigorenko (Yale), Pugh (Haskins), , , ,
Social and Emotional Learning

We are examining the neurobiological and affective/cognitive underpinnings of socio-emotional constructs, such as motivation, grit, resilience, mindset, and stereotype threat.  Understanding the intricacies underlying common socio-emotional constructs may help us to tease apart their similarities and differences, and develop targeted interventions based on a student’s personal needs.  The ultimate goal of this research is to enhance student learning from a holistic perspective, believing that it is not just cognitive abilities that influence academic and life success.

We have developed and are in the process of developing a number of tools related to this focus, such as outreach materials for underserved populations, teacher training modules with student activities, and a comprehensive tool of assessment.

For more information, visit our SEL project website or contact SEL@ucsf.edu.

Precision Learning Center (PrecL)

Precision Learning Center (PrecL) is a new, innovative and cross-disciplinary ‘Precision Ed-Health’ center that started at the beginning of 2017. Our central mission is to tackle issues associated with education and health disparity with a particular emphasis on underrepresented populations, through high quality services, training, advocacy and research programs. The ultimate goal is to provide the best educational and health outcomes for ALL children regardless of their background. PrecL was made possible through a prestigious Multicampus Research Program and Initiatives (MRPI) Award from the University of California Office of the President to (Grant # MRP-17-454925).

Interested in Partnering with Us?

Jamal Abedi (UC Davis), Marcelo Suarez-Orozco (UCLA), Carol Connor (UC Irvine), Silvia Bunge (UC Berkeley), Jeff Gilger (UC Merced), Bruce McCandliss (Stanford), Melina Uncapher (UCSF)
The Effect of Mentoring on Social and Emotional Learning in Learning Disabilities (LD)

Eye to Eye manages a network of mentoring programs that pairs LD/ADHD elementary and middle school students with similarly identified college and high school students. The partnership between Eye to Eye and brainLENS will spark an initiative for rigorous and nation-wide evaluation of the effect of one-to-one mentoring on social and emotional learning in LD adolescents in 50 chapters spanning 20 states. We will assess menthes with a comprehensive tool on social and emotional skills (S-E Toolkit) before they enter the mentoring program and chart their progress over a course of two years. This project is funded by the Oak Foundation.

Gabe Friedman (Eye to Eye National), Mariel Henkoff (Eye to Eye National)
UniSkript Global Literacy Initiative

LENS has teamed up with UniSkript Research & Literacy Institute (URLI; uniskript.org), a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving literacy through a new linguistic and literacy technology known as UniSkript. UniSkript enables functional literacy in illiterates in three to six hours and fluency in days. Both organizations are driven by a passion to find pathways to remediate the global scourge of illiteracy and its multiple ill effects that disenfranchise nearly 1.5 billion people around the world. The overarching goal of the partnership is to scientifically validate the use of UniSkript in illiterates in developing countries such as Papua New Guinea to dyslexic children in developing societies. The partnership will also allow us to run the most rigorous and unique research study to date that examines the neurocognitive mechanism of literacy acquisition.

Watch the UniSkript video here.

Janosch Linkersdoerfer (German Inst for Int’l Ed Res), Bob Norsworthy (URLI)
Multiband Imaging of Auditory Processing

This study will examine how brain structure and chemistry relate to neural oscillations in auditory brain regions.  It will help us understand the neurobiological underpinnings of dyslexia and related disorders from the levels of neurotransmitters, electrophysiological signal to large-scale brain networks and link to behavior, which will allow more targeted interventions.

Other Key Programs

1. UCSF Dylexia Center’s Phenotypic Project: http://dyslexia.ucsf.edu
2. UNESCO Global Literacy Network with the goal of reducing illiteracy and poverty world-wide (Africa, Canada, Finland, France, India, Taiwan, The Netherlands, UK, USA delegates)
3. International Cross-Literacy Research Consortium (ICLR Consortium; UCSF, Yale U Haskins Labs, Spain BCBL, Taiwan IoCN, Israel HU and India NBRC)
4. UC Davis MIND Institute collaboration on the neuroscience of autism
5. Vanderbilt U EBSRL on the neuroscience of learning disabilities