Research Interests

  • Brain and Learning Sciences
  • Diversity and Identity
  • Psychology
  • Research Methods
  • Technology and Education

Stanford Advisees

  • Doctoral Dissertation Reader (AC)
    Arianna Yuan
  • Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
    Fang Wang
  • Master's Program Advisor
    Tal Koren
  • Doctoral Dissertation Co-Advisor (AC)
    Xingyu Li
  • Doctoral (Program)
    Lindsey Hasak, Candice Kim, Trang Nguyen, Ethan Roy, Julian Siebert

All Publications

  • Distinct Representations of Magnitude and Spatial Position within Parietal Cortex during Number-Space Mapping JOURNAL OF COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE Kanayet, F. J., Mattarella-Micke, A., Kohler, P. J., Norcia, A. M., McCandliss, B. D., McClelland, J. L. 2018; 30 (2): 200–218


    Mapping numbers onto space is foundational to mathematical cognition. These cognitive operations are often conceptualized in the context of a "mental number line" and involve multiple brain regions in or near the intraparietal sulcus (IPS) that have been implicated both in numeral and spatial cognition. Here we examine possible differentiation of function within these brain areas in relating numbers to spatial positions. By isolating the planning phase of a number line task and introducing spatiotopic mapping tools from fMRI into mental number line task research, we are able to focus our analysis on the neural activity of areas in anterior IPS (aIPS) previously associated with number processing and on spatiotopically organized areas in and around posterior IPS (pIPS), while participants prepare to place a number on a number line. Our results support the view that the nonpositional magnitude of a numerical symbol is coded in aIPS, whereas the position of a number in space is coded in posterior areas of IPS. By focusing on the planning phase, we are able to isolate activation related to the cognitive, rather than the sensory-motor, aspects of the task. Also, to allow the separation of spatial position from magnitude, we tested both a standard positive number line (0 to 100) and a zero-centered mixed number line (-100 to 100). We found evidence of a functional dissociation between aIPS and pIPS: Activity in aIPS was associated with a landmark distance effect not modulated by spatial position, whereas activity in pIPS revealed a contralateral preference effect.

    View details for PubMedID 29040015

  • Event-related potential differences in children supplemented with long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids during infancy. Developmental science Liao, K., McCandliss, B. D., Carlson, S. E., Colombo, J., Shaddy, D. J., Kerling, E. H., Lepping, R. J., Sittiprapaporn, W., Cheatham, C. L., Gustafson, K. M. 2016


    Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) have been shown to be necessary for early retinal and brain development, but long-term cognitive benefits of LCPUFA in infancy have not been definitively established. The present study sought to determine whether LCPUFA supplementation during the first year of life would result in group differences in behavior and event-related potentials (ERPs) while performing a task requiring response inhibition (Go/No-Go) at 5.5 years of age. As newborns, 69 children were randomly assigned to infant formulas containing either no LCPUFA (control) or formula with 0.64% of total fatty acids as arachidonic acid (ARA; 20:4n6) and various concentrations of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n3) (0.32%, 0.64% or 0.96%) for the first 12 months of life. At 5.5 years of age, a task designed to test the ability to inhibit a prepotent response (Go/No-Go) was administered, yielding both event-related potentials (ERPs) and behavioral data. Behavioral measures did not differ between groups, although reaction times of supplemented children were marginally faster. Unsupplemented children had lower P2 amplitude than supplemented children to both Go and No-Go conditions. N2 amplitude was significantly higher on No-Go trials than Go trials, but only for supplemented children, resulting in a significant Group × Condition interaction. Topographical analysis of the ERPs revealed that the LCPUFA-supplemented group developed a novel period of synchronous activation (microstate) involving wider anterior brain activation around 200 ms; this microstate was not present in controls. These findings suggest that LCPUFA supplementation during the first 12 months of life exerts a developmental programming effect that is manifest in brain electrophysiology. A video abstract of this article can be viewed at:

    View details for DOI 10.1111/desc.12455

    View details for PubMedID 27747986

  • Effects of Tutorial Interventions in Mathematics and Attention for Low-Performing Preschool Children JOURNAL OF RESEARCH ON EDUCATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS Barnes, M. A., Klein, A., Swank, P., Starkey, P., McCandliss, B., Flynn, K., Zucker, T., Huang, C., Fall, A., Roberts, G. 2016; 9 (4): 577-606
  • Does Music Training Enhance Literacy Skills? A Meta-Analysis FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY Gordon, R. L., Fehd, H. M., McCandliss, B. D. 2015; 6

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01777

    View details for PubMedID 26648880

  • Hemispheric specialization for visual words is shaped by attention to sublexical units during initial learning. Brain and language Yoncheva, Y. N., Wise, J., McCandliss, B. 2015; 145-146: 23-33


    Selective attention to grapheme-phoneme mappings during learning can impact the circuitry subsequently recruited during reading. Here we trained literate adults to read two novel scripts of glyph words containing embedded letters under different instructions. For one script, learners linked each embedded letter to its corresponding sound within the word (grapheme-phoneme focus); for the other, decoding was prevented so entire words had to be memorized. Post-training, ERPs were recorded during a reading task on the trained words within each condition and on untrained but decodable (transfer) words. Within this condition, reaction-time patterns suggested both trained and transfer words were accessed via sublexical units, yet a left-lateralized, late ERP response showed an enhanced left lateralization for transfer words relative to trained words, potentially reflecting effortful decoding. Collectively, these findings show that selective attention to grapheme-phoneme mappings during learning drives the lateralization of circuitry that supports later word recognition. This study thus provides a model example of how different instructional approaches to the same material may impact changes in brain circuitry.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bandl.2015.04.001

    View details for PubMedID 25935827

  • Hemispheric specialization for visual words is shaped by attention to sublexical units during initial learning BRAIN AND LANGUAGE Yoncheva, Y. N., Wise, J., McCandliss, B. 2015; 145: 23-33
  • Neuroimaging correlates of handwriting quality as children learn to read and write FRONTIERS IN HUMAN NEUROSCIENCE Gimenez, P., Bugescu, N., Black, J. M., Hancock, R., Pugh, K., Nagamine, M., Kutner, E., Mazaika, P., Hendren, R., McCandliss, B. D., Hoeft, F. 2014; 8


    Reading and writing are related but separable processes that are crucial skills to possess in modern society. The neurobiological basis of reading acquisition and development, which critically depends on phonological processing, and to a lesser degree, beginning writing as it relates to letter perception, are increasingly being understood. Yet direct relationships between writing and reading development, in particular, with phonological processing is not well understood. The main goal of the current preliminary study was to examine individual differences in neurofunctional and neuroanatomical patterns associated with handwriting in beginning writers/readers. In 46 5-6 year-old beginning readers/writers, ratings of handwriting quality, were rank-ordered from best to worst and correlated with brain activation patterns during a phonological task using functional MRI, and with regional gray matter volume from structural T1 MRI. Results showed that better handwriting was associated negatively with activation and positively with gray matter volume in an overlapping region of the pars triangularis of right inferior frontal gyrus. This region, in particular in the left hemisphere in adults and more bilaterally in young children, is known to be important for decoding, phonological processing, and subvocal rehearsal. We interpret the dissociation in the directionality of the association in functional activation and morphometric properties in the right inferior frontal gyrus in terms of neural efficiency, and suggest future studies that interrogate the relationship between the neural mechanisms underlying reading and writing development.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00155

    View details for Web of Science ID 000333052300001

    View details for PubMedID 24678293

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3958698

  • Selective attention to phonology dynamically modulates initial encoding of auditory words within the left hemisphere NeuroImage Yoncheva, Y., Maurer, U., Zevin, J. D., McCandliss, B. D. 2014; 97: 262-270
  • The cognitive mechanisms of the SNARC effect: an individual differences approach PloS one Viarouge, A., Hubbard, E. M., McCandliss, B. D. 2014; 9 (4): e95756
  • The emergence of “groupitizing” in children’s numerical cognition Journal of experimental child psychology Starkey, G. S., McCandliss, B. D. 2014; 126: 120-137
  • Mise en place: Setting the stage for thought and action Trends in Cognitive Sciences Weisberg, D. S., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R. M., McCandliss, B. D. 2014; 18 (6): 276-278
  • Orthographic influences on division of labor in learning to read Chinese and English: Insights from computational modeling Bilingualism: Language and Cognition Yang, J., Shu, H., McCandliss, B. D., Zevin, J. D. 2013; 16 (2): 354-366
  • Effects of rhyme and spelling patterns on auditory word ERPs depend on selective attention to phonology Brain and language Yoncheva, Y. N., Maurer, U., Zevin, J. D., McCandliss, B. D. 2013; 124 (3): 238-243
  • Neural systems predicting long-term outcome in dyslexia PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Hoeft, F., McCandliss, B. D., Black, J. M., Gantman, A., Zakerani, N., Hulme, C., Lyytinen, H., Whitfield-Gabrieli, S., Glover, G. H., Reiss, A. L., Gabrieli, J. D. 2011; 108 (1): 361-366


    Individuals with developmental dyslexia vary in their ability to improve reading skills, but the brain basis for improvement remains largely unknown. We performed a prospective, longitudinal study over 2.5 y in children with dyslexia (n = 25) or without dyslexia (n = 20) to discover whether initial behavioral or brain measures, including functional MRI (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), can predict future long-term reading gains in dyslexia. No behavioral measure, including widely used and standardized reading and language tests, reliably predicted future reading gains in dyslexia. Greater right prefrontal activation during a reading task that demanded phonological awareness and right superior longitudinal fasciculus (including arcuate fasciculus) white-matter organization significantly predicted future reading gains in dyslexia. Multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA) of these two brain measures, using linear support vector machine (SVM) and cross-validation, predicted significantly above chance (72% accuracy) which particular child would or would not improve reading skills (behavioral measures were at chance). MVPA of whole-brain activation pattern during phonological processing predicted which children with dyslexia would improve reading skills 2.5 y later with >90% accuracy. These findings identify right prefrontal brain mechanisms that may be critical for reading improvement in dyslexia and that may differ from typical reading development. Brain measures that predict future behavioral outcomes (neuroprognosis) may be more accurate, in some cases, than available behavioral measures.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1008950108

    View details for Web of Science ID 000285915000067

    View details for PubMedID 21173250

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3017159

  • Scientific and Pragmatic Challenges for Bridging Education and Neuroscience EDUCATIONAL RESEARCHER Varma, S., McCandliss, B. D., Schwartz, D. L. 2008; 37 (3): 140-152
  • Extent of microstructural white matter injury in postconcussive syndrome correlates with impaired cognitive reaction time: a 3T diffusion tensor imaging study of mild traumatic brain injury American Journal of Neuroradiology Niogi, S., Mukherjee, P., Ghajar, J., Johnson, C., Kolster, R., Sarkar, R., Lee, H., Meeker, M., Zimmerman, R., Manley, G. 2008; 29 (5): 967-973