Silvia Bunge

Silvia Bunge
University of California, Berkeley | UCB · Department of Psychology & Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute

PhD

About

207
Publications
97,753
Reads
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15,333
Citations
Citations since 2016
88 Research Items
6726 Citations
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Introduction
Professor Bunge directs the Building Blocks of Cognition Laboratory, which draws from the fields of cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, and education research. Researchers in the lab examine developmental changes and neural plasticity in cognitive control and reasoning skills in healthy and neurologically impaired children and adults. Professor Bunge and her team also seek to better understand both negative and positive environmental influences on brain and cognitive development.
Additional affiliations
January 2007 - present
University of California, Berkeley
Position
  • Professor (Full, as of 2014)
July 2003 - December 2006
University of California, Davis
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
Education
September 2001 - July 2003
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Field of study
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
September 1996 - June 2001
Stanford University
Field of study
  • Neuroscience
September 1992 - June 1996
Yale University
Field of study
  • Biology (psychobiology)

Publications

Publications (207)
Article
Full-text available
The goal of this fMRI study was to examine how well developmental improvements in reasoning ability can be explained by changes in functional connectivity between specific nodes in prefrontal and parietal cortices. To this end, we examined connectivity within the lateral fronto-parietal network (LFPN) and its relation to reasoning ability in 132 ch...
Article
Full-text available
Relational thinking, or the ability to represent the relations between items, is widespread in the animal kingdom. However, humans are unparalleled in their ability to engage in the higher-order relational thinking required for reasoning and other forms of abstract thought. Here, we propose that the versatile reasoning skills observed in humans can...
Article
Full-text available
Patterns of correlated activity among brain regions reflect functionally relevant networks that are widely assumed to be stable over time. We hypothesized that if these correlations reflect the prior history of coactivation of brain regions, then a marked shift in cognition could alter the strength of coupling between these regions. We sought to te...
Article
Full-text available
The capacity to reason about complex information is a central characteristic of human cognition. An important component of many reasoning tasks is the need to integrate multiple mental relations. Several researchers have argued that rostrolateral prefrontal cortex (RLPFC) plays a key role in relational integration. If this hypothesis is correct, th...
Preprint
Full-text available
The ability to flexibly switch between tasks is key for goal-directed behavior and continues to improve in late childhood. Children's task switching difficulties are thought to reflect less efficient engagement of sustained and transient control processes, resulting in lower performance on blocks that intermix tasks (sustained demand) and trials th...
Preprint
Full-text available
Previous findings show that the morphology of folds (sulci) of the human cerebral cortex flatten during postnatal development. However, previous studies did not consider the relationship between sulcal morphology and cognitive development in individual participants. Here, we fill this gap in knowledge by leveraging cross-sectional morphological neu...
Article
Understanding brain structure-function relationships, and their development and evolution, is central to neuroscience research. Here, we show that morphological differences in posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), a hub of functional brain networks, predict individual differences in macroanatomical, microstructural, and functional features of PCC. Manu...
Article
Relational thinking, the ability to represent abstract, generalizable relations, is a core component of reasoning and human cognition. Relational thinking contributes to fluid reasoning and academic achievement, particularly in the domain of math. However, due to the complex nature of many fluid reasoning tasks, it has been difficult to determine t...
Article
Full-text available
The relationship between structural variability in late-developing association cortices like the lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) and the development of higher-order cognitive skills is not well understood. Recent findings show that the morphology of LPFC sulci predicts reasoning performance; this work led to the observation of substantial individu...
Article
Full-text available
Relational thinking, the ability to represent abstract, generalizable relations, is a core component of reasoning and human cognition. Relational thinking contributes to fluid reasoning and academic achievement, particularly in the domain of math. However, due to the complex nature of many fluid reasoning tasks, it has been difficult to determine t...
Preprint
Superficial white matter (SWM) represents a significantly understudied part of the human brain, despite comprising a large portion of brain volume and making up a majority of cortical structural connections. Using multiple, high-quality, datasets with large sample sizes (N=2421, age range 5-100) in combination with methodological advances in tracto...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Many computational models of reasoning rely on explicit relation representations to account for human cognitive capacities such as analogical reasoning. Relational luring, a phenomenon observed in recognition memory, has been interpreted as evidence that explicit relation representations also impact episodic memory; however, this assumption has not...
Article
Full-text available
The neuroanatomical changes that underpin cognitive development are of major interest in neuroscience. Of the many aspects of neuroanatomy to consider, tertiary sulci are particularly attractive as they emerge last in gestation, show a protracted development after birth, and are either human- or hominoid-specific. Thus, they are ideal targets for e...
Preprint
The present study tests two predictions stemming from the hypothesis that a source of difficulty with rational numbers is interference from whole number knowledge. First, inhibitory control should be an independent predictor of fraction understanding, even after controlling for working memory. Second, if the source of interference is whole number k...
Preprint
Full-text available
The relationship between structural variability in late-developing association cortices like the lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) and the development of higher-order cognitive skills is not well understood. Recent findings show that the morphology of LPFC sulci predicts reasoning performance; this work led to the observation of substantial individu...
Preprint
Full-text available
Children in poverty must contend with systems that do not meet their needs. We explored what, at a neural level, helps explain children’s resilience in these contexts. Lower coupling between lateral frontoparietal network (LFPN) and default mode network (DMN)—linked, respectively, to externally- and internally-directed thought—has previously been a...
Article
Full-text available
Children in poverty must contend with systems that do not meet their needs. We explored what, at a neural level, helps explain children’s resilience in these contexts. Lower coupling between lateral frontoparietal network (LFPN) and default mode network (DMN)—linked, respectively, to externally- and internally-directed thought—has previously been a...
Article
Full-text available
Accelerated longitudinal designs (ALDs) allow examining developmental changes over a period of time longer than the duration of the study. In ALDs, participants enter the study at different ages (i.e., different cohorts), and provide measures during a time frame shorter than the total study. They key assumption is that participants from the differe...
Article
Full-text available
Prior research indicates that lower resting-state functional coupling between two brain networks, lateral frontoparietal network (LFPN) and default mode network (DMN), relates to cognitive test performance, for children and adults. However, most of the research that led to this conclusion has been conducted with non-representative samples of indivi...
Preprint
Full-text available
The neuroanatomical changes that underpin cognitive development is of major interest in neuroscience. Of the many aspects of neuroanatomy to consider, tertiary sulci are particularly appealing as they emerge last in gestation, show a protracted development after birth, and are either human- or hominoid-specific. Thus, they are ideal targets for exp...
Preprint
Full-text available
Understanding brain structure-function relationships, and their development and evolution, is central to neuroscience research. Here, we show that morphological differences in posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), a hub of functional brain networks, predict individual differences in macroanatomical, microstructural, and functional features of PCC. Manu...
Preprint
Full-text available
Executive functions (EFs) are linked to positive outcomes across the lifespan. Yet, methodological challenges have prevented rigorous understanding of the precise ways EFs are organized in childhood and how they develop over time. We introduce novel methods to address these challenges for both measuring and modeling EFs using a large, accelerated l...
Preprint
Full-text available
Executive functions (EFs) are linked to positive outcomes across the lifespan. Yet, methodological challenges have prevented rigorous understanding of the precise ways EFs are organized in childhood and how they develop over time. We introduce novel methods to address these challenges for both measuring and modeling EFs using a large, accelerated l...
Preprint
Full-text available
Groupitizing – the ability to take advantage of grouping cues to rapidly enumerate sets that otherwise require serial counting – is linked to conceptual aspects of numbers (accessing the cardinality of subgroups) and math (combining the subgroups values) that rapidly emerge during the first years of schooling (Starkey & McCandliss, 2014). Little el...
Article
Full-text available
The lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) is disproportionately expanded in humans compared to non-human primates, although the relationship between LPFC brain structures and uniquely human cognitive skills is largely unknown. Here, we test the relationship between variability in LPFC tertiary sulcal morphology and reasoning scores in a cohort of childr...
Article
Studying development processes, as they unfold over time, involves collecting repeated measures from individuals and modeling the changes over time. One methodological challenge in this type of longitudinal data is separating retest effects, due to the repeated assessments, from developmental processes such as maturation or age. In this article, we...
Preprint
Accelerated longitudinal designs (ALDs) allow examining developmental changes over a period of time longer than the duration of the study. In ALDs, participants enter the study at different ages (i.e., different cohorts), and provide measures during a time frame shorter than the total study. They key assumption is that participants from the differe...
Preprint
Full-text available
This manuscript describes data collection, cleaning, and quality control procedures used in a large-scale, longitudinal, in-school study of executive function skills (EFs) and academic achievement in middle childhood, Project iLEAD (in-school Longitudinal Executive Function and Academic Achievement Database). Assessments were administered in real-w...
Article
Research findings: Using two groups of dual language learners (DLLs), the current study examined links between two developmental constructs closely linked to school readiness: the home language environment (HLE) and executive function (EF). In a sample of 90 children (age range = 38-70 months, 59% girls) from either Mexican American (MA, N = 46) o...
Preprint
Studying development processes, as they unfold over time, involves collecting repeated measures from individuals and modeling the changes over time. One methodological challenge in this type of longitudinal data is separating retest effects, due to the repeated assessments, from developmental processes such as maturation or age. In this article, we...
Article
Full-text available
The inference of cortical sulcal labels often focuses on deep (primary and secondary) sulcal regions, whereas shallow (tertiary) sulcal regions are largely overlooked in the literature due to the scarcity of manual/well-defined annotations and their large neuroanatomical variability. In this paper, we present an automated framework for regional lab...
Article
Full-text available
We can retain only a portion of the visual information that we encounter within our visual working memory. Which factors influence how much information we can remember? Recent studies have demonstrated that the capacity of visual working memory is influenced by the type of information to be remembered and is greater for real-world objects than for...
Preprint
While the disproportionate expansion of lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) throughout evolution is commonly accepted, the relationship between evolutionarily new LPFC brain structures and uniquely human cognitive skills is largely unknown. Here, we tested the relationship between variability in evolutionarily new LPFC tertiary sulci and reasoning ski...
Article
Full-text available
There has been extensive discussion about gender gaps in representation and career advancement in the sciences. However, psychological science itself has yet to be the focus of discussion or systematic review, despite our field's investment in questions of equity, status, well-being, gender bias, and gender disparities. In the present article, we c...
Article
Although a large proportion of the lexicon consists of abstract concepts, little is known about how they are represented by the brain. Here, we investigated how the mind represents relations shared between sets of mental representations that are superficially unrelated, such as car–engine and dog–tongue, but that nonetheless share a more general, a...
Article
Full-text available
Learning fractions is notoriously difficult, yet critically important to mathematical and general academic achievement. Eye-tracking studies are beginning to characterize the strategies that adults use when comparing fractions, but we know relatively little about the strategies used by children. We used eye-tracking to analyze how novice children a...
Article
Full-text available
Mnemonic precision is an important aspect of visual working memory (WM). Here, we probed mechanisms that affect precision for spatial (size) and non-spatial (colour) features of an object, and whether these features are encoded and/or stored separately in WM. We probed precision at the feature-level-that is, whether different features of a single o...
Preprint
Full-text available
Prior fMRI research indicates that lower resting-state functional connectivity between two specific brain networks is linked to better cognitive test performance in children and adults. However, most study samples are skewed towards higher-socioeconomic status individuals---and what is adaptive for one population may not be for another. In a pre-re...
Conference Paper
In this paper, we present the automatic labeling framework for sulci in the human lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC). We adapt an existing spherical U-Net architecture with our recent surface data augmentation technique to improve the sulcal labeling accuracy in a developmental cohort. Specifically, our framework consists of the following key componen...
Article
Full-text available
Importance Understanding the neurodevelopmental trajectory of psychiatric symptoms is important for improving early identification, intervention, and prevention of mental disorders. Objective To test whether the strength of the coupling of activation between specific brain regions, as measured by resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging...
Article
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A belief about education that dates back several millennia is that, in addition to imparting specific facts, it hones general cognitive abilities that can be leveraged for future learning. However, this idea has been a source of heated debate over the past century. Here, we focus on the question of whether and when schooling hones reasoning skills....
Article
Full-text available
Relational memory improves during middle childhood and adolescence, yet the neural correlates underlying those improvements are debated. Although memory for spatial, temporal, and other associative relations requires the hippocampus, it is not established whether within-individual changes in hippocampal structure contribute to memory improvements f...
Article
Full-text available
This study investigated whether prompting children to generate predictions about an outcome facilitates activation of prior knowledge and improves belief revision. 51 children aged 9–12 were tested on two experimental tasks in which generating a prediction was compared to closely-matched control conditions, as well as on a test of executive functio...
Article
Full-text available
Formal thought organization obtained from free speech, a key feature for psychiatric evaluations, has been poorly investigated during typical development. Computational tools such as speech graph connectedness (LSC) currently allow for an accurate quantification in naturalistic settings. LSC's typical development is better predicted by years of edu...
Article
Full-text available
A white paper published by the Jacobs Foundation, focused on interventions for children & the science of brain plasticity. It targets a broad audience, including policymakers and funders.
Article
Successful memory encoding is supported by medial temporal, retrosplenial, and occipital regions, which show developmental differences in recruitment from childhood to adulthood. However, little is known about the extent to which neural specificity in these brain regions, or the distinctiveness with which sensory information is represented, continu...
Article
Inductive reasoning, which entails reaching conclusions that are based on but go beyond available evidence, has long been of interest in cognitive science. Nevertheless, knowledge is still lacking as to the specific cognitive processes that underlie inductive reasoning. Here, we shed light on these processes in two ways. First, we characterized the...
Preprint
Full-text available
Relational memory requires the hippocampus, but whether distinct hippocampal mechanisms along the anterior-posterior axis are required for different types of relations is debated. We investigated the contribution of structural changes in hippocampal head, body, and tail subregions to the capacity to remember item-space, item-time, and item-item rel...
Article
Full-text available
This study examined the concurrent relations of English (EL) and heritage language (HL) proficiency to executive functions (EF) among low-income dual language learners (DLLs) from immigrant families. In a sample of 90 children (age = 38–70 months) from Chinese-speaking Chinese American and Spanish-speaking Mexican American families recruited from H...
Article
Full-text available
The current study investigated longitudinal change in hippocampal and prefrontal contribution to episodic retrieval. Functional neuroimaging data were collected during an item-context association memory task for children between the ages of 8 and 14 with individuals scanned 1 to 3 times over the course of 0.75 to 3.7 years (Timepoint 1 N=90; Timepo...
Preprint
Humans possess the capacity to employ prior knowledge in the service of our ability to remember; thus, memory is oftentimes superior for information that is semantically congruent with our prior knowledge. This congruency benefit grows during development, but little is understood about neurodevelopmental differences that underlie this growth. Here,...
Preprint
Full-text available
The degree to which a child recovers from early brain injury depends on many factors, only some of which are related to the injury itself. Because any two patients differ in so many ways, it is challenging to measure the impact of brain injury. Here, we conducted extensive assessments of 10-year-old twins, only one of whom had incurred a focal inju...
Article
Full-text available
In press, Nature: Science of Learning Reasoning, our ability to solve novel problems, has been shown to improve as a result of learning experiences. However, the underlying mechanisms of change in this high-level cognitive ability are unclear. We hypothesized that possible mechanisms include improvements in the encoding, maintenance, and/or integr...