Silvia Bunge

Research Expertise and Interest

cognition, human brain function, development

Research Description

Dr. Silvia Bunge is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at the University of California, Berkeley. She directs the Building Blocks of Cognition Laboratory, which draws from the fields of cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, and education research. Her lab studies the cognitive and neural processes that support reasoning, memory, and goal-directed behavior in humans. The  lab  further studies how these processes mature over childhood and adolescence, and how they are shaped by education and demographic factors – for better and for worse. Professor Bunge seeks to extend her research to understand individual differences and developmental change in reasoning about real-world phenomena in daily life, as well as in the context of STEM education. To investigate these phenomena, the lab leverages behavioral, structural and functional brain imaging, and eyetracking methods, and experimental, cross-sectional, and longitudinal designs.




In the News

Brain scans could flag children’s future mental health problems

It can take years to diagnose children with psychiatric or attention deficit disorders, forcing them to endure a lot of frustration and suffering. But a new study has found evidence that brain scans, if conducted early, can predict whether a youngster is susceptible to mental health or attention problems down the road.

To track how students ace the LSAT, watch their eyes

Previous research has found that training for law school admission exams boosted brain connections that sharpen reasoning skills. Today, they’ve taken a major step closer to understanding how practicing the LSAT makes students smarter. They’re watching their eyes.

Intense prep for law school admission test alters brain structure

Intensive preparation for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) actually changes the microscopic structure of the brain, physically bolstering the connections between areas of the brain important for reasoning, according to neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
October 24, 2018
Kathryn Rubino
Building on prior research showing that intense studying for the LSAT strengthens brain circuitry and reasoning skills, a team of neuroscientists led by psychology professor Silvia Bunge has developed a new way of investigating underlying brain mechanisms by studying eye gaze patterns while their subjects were studying. According to Professor Bunge: "We found that the biggest change associated with reasoning practice was reduced time spent encoding and integrating relevant pieces of information. ... Notably, we showed this boost in performance efficiency for reasoning tests that bore no resemblance to the LSAT problems. ... These results should interest psychologists and neuroscientists who study learning mechanisms and/or higher cognitive abilities, as well as education researchers studying learning in real-world contexts." For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News.
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