Family Brain Program - Intergenerational Neuroimaging @ UCONN & UCSF

Genes and the environment together shape how the brain works. However, the details of this complex interaction, as well as how it impacts parent-child brain similarity, is currently understudied. Our innovative study seeks to answer these questions, providing unique insight into how language, math, and reading abilities are transmitted over generations.

We are inviting families who have used assisted reproductive technologies (such as IVF) and families with naturally conceived children to participate by taking a series of brain scans and paper and pencil tests. Your participation will help us understand the unique evolutionary basis of linguistic and mathematical functions in the brain.

Learning Success Program - Bilingualism & Literacy Acquisition @ UCSF

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 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.

Adult Reading Strategies Program @ UCONN

This New England based research project is a federally-funded study examining brain mechanisms of reading and dyslexia in young adults. It integrates multiple, cutting-edge neuroimaging techniques to uncover the flexibility and resilience in adult brains with dyslexia. We hope this research will progress current models of reading intervention and promote successful compensatory strategies for both children and adults with dyslexia.


AppRISE: Application for Readiness in Schools and Learning Evaluation

AppRISE is a fun, universal screener that assesses school readiness and dyslexia risk in young learners in the form of a gamified app. The app is designed for all young children 3 to 8, including English learners and those with or at-risk for developing learning disabilities. Designed to be as reliable as conventional assessments, AppRISE measures a range of literacy and cognitive skills and will help identify risk for reading and other learning disabilities that will allow early intervention.

Social and Emotional Learning @ UCSF

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

Project Collaborators   Gabe Friedman (Eye to Eye National), Mariel Henkoff (Eye to Eye National)

Project Collaborators
Gabe Friedman (Eye to Eye National), Mariel Henkoff (Eye to Eye National)

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 mentees 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.

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 Projects:

1. UCSF Dylexia Center:
2. Haskins Global  [Language and Literacy Innovation Hub] with the goal of improving language and literacy outcomes for at risk children, across languages and cultures.