Category Archives: news

News and notes from the Bunge Lab and beyond

Lateral frontoparietal functional connectivity based on individual sulcal morphology

Former postdoc Suvi Hakkinen, colleague Kevin Weiner, and Silvia have
submitted a new manuscript that explores fine-grained functional
connectivity in relation to cortical sulci. Sulci are a salient but
understudied feature of the human brain that are related to both
cognition (as Kevin Weiner and Silvia have shown in prior studies, in
relation to reasoning ability).

Lateral frontoparietal functional connectivity based on individual
sulcal morphology

Illuminating the Brain Consortium

Profs. Fei Xu, Keanan Joyner, and Bunge are launching the Illuminating the Brain Consortium – a community of researchers who will be using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to study the neural basis of cognition in early childhood, across diverse populations, and/or in naturalistic settings. 


Newly published textbook on developmental cognitive neuroscience!

This book features learning objectives, review questions, PPT slides, a test bank for instructors, as well as videos of interviews with scientists featured in the book. It is designed for upper-level undergraduates and more advanced trainees, and anyone else who wants a deep dive into this burgeoning field of the brain basis of cognitive and socioemotional development from infancy through adolescence.
It’s available for free online through universities (including UC Berkeley) that subscribe to Cambridge University Press books.

We are currently hiring!

We are currently hiring!

Development of human lateral prefrontal sulcal morphology and its relation to reasoning performance

Research assistant Ethan Willbrand published a preprint identifying a relationship between developmental changes in the morphology of sulci in lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) and reasoning performance in childhood and adolescence. Analysis of both cross-sectional and longitudinal data sets revealed differences in cortical thickness between children (ages 6-11) and adolescents (ages 11-18). Further analysis revealed that longitudinal changes in cortical thickness of four rostral LPFC sulci predicted longitudinal changes in reasoning performance. Contrary to previous findings, these results suggest that sulci may flatten either after this time frame or over a longer longitudinal period of time than previously presented. Crucially, these results also suggest that longitudinal changes in the cortex within specific LPFC sulci are behaviorally meaningful—providing targeted structures, and areas of the cortex, for future neuroimaging studies examining the development of cognitive abilities.

You can read the paper here:

Uncovering a tripartite landmark in posterior cingulate cortex

Research assistant Ethan Willbrand and PhD student Benjamin Parker of the Cognitive Neuroanatomy Lab published a new study uncovering a sulcus in posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) that is absent from neuroanatomical atlases. Variability in the location and morphology of this novel sulcus, termed the inframarginal sulcus (ifrms), is predictive of individual differences in macroanatomical and microstructural features of PCC, in addition to the location of functional regions of the lateral frontoparietal network implicated in cognitive control. The findings from this study provide support for Sanides’ classic hypothesis that tertiary sulci may serve as landmarks within association cortices.

You can read the paper here: Uncovering a tripartite landmark in posterior cingulate cortex | Science Advances

Presence or absence of a prefrontal sulcus is linked to reasoning performance during child development

A new study published by research assistant Ethan Willbrand and PhD student Willa Voorhies revealed that the presence or absence of the ventral component of the para-intermediate frontal sulcus (pimfs) is associated with reasoning performance in children. The findings from this study highlight the importance of considering individual differences in local morphology when exploring the neurodevelopmental basis of cognition.

You can read the paper here: Presence or absence of a prefrontal sulcus is linked to reasoning performance during child development | SpringerLink

Relational thinking: an executive function?

Former postdoc Ariel Starr – now an Assistant Professor at U Washington -  and current grad student Elena Leib have published a new study on relational thinking. We argue that this mid-level cognitive process should be considered one of the executive functions, since it has many of the same characteristics. We find that it predicts math performance over and above canonical executive functions. Congrats to Ariel and Elena!



Congrats to doctoral candidate Smriti Mehta!

IMG_3889Smriti, after being quizzed on implicit theories of intelligence and academic motivation by her Qualifying Exam Committee. Onward and upward!

Importance of investing in adolescent education

On April 12-14, 2022, Professor Caroline Hoxby from Stanford came to UC Berkeley to deliver the prestigious Tanner Lectures on Human Values. Prof. Hoxby argued that early adolescence is a time when honing advanced cognitive skills is critical for future academic attainment and career opportunities. Silvia Bunge served as one of the three invited discussants, along with an economist from the University of Chicago (Prof. Erik Hurst) and a political scientist from Princeton (Prof. Jan-Werner Müller). The lectures and commentaries will be published as a book by Oxford University Press.

Lecture 1 & Discussion: The Fork in the Road: Adolescence, Education, and Economic Fatalism

Lecture 2 & Discussion: Smart Money: Educational Investments in Adolescents Earn Higher Returns

Roundtable with Commentators