Melina Uncapher, PhD

Title(s)Assistant Professor, Neurology
SchoolSchool of Medicine
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    Title(s)UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences

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    Melina is an Assistant Professor in the Dept of Neurology, and leads the educational neuroscience efforts of the Cognitive Neuroscience division. Melina is a neuroscientist with 17 yrs of experience at the forefront of learning and memory research, with a focus on understanding how executive functioning/cognitive control affects learning and memory. More recently, she has turned her efforts to applying research to real-world problems. She leads research and outreach efforts in the fields of education, technology, and law.

    Education: Melina partners with educators throughout the country to design, implement, and assess education innovations that are grounded in the science of learning. She leads Project iLEAD, a multi-university NSF Science of Learning network, partnering with investigators at Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCSF, UC San Diego, Rutgers, and UC Davis to investigate how executive function contributes to academic achievement in middle childhood. Project iLEAD generated a database of over 1,000 students (3rd through 8th grade) with ~80,000 tasks of executive function, math, reading, reasoning, and more, collected over two years ( On the outreach side, she co-founded and is CEO of a science-for-good nonprofit that arms educators and students with practices and tools based on the science of learning (

    Technology: Melina investigates whether technology and media are associated with cognitive and neural differences, using functional neuroimaging and behavioral assessments of media use and cognitive function. On the outreach side, she co-chaired a global conference for the National Academy of Sciences on children and technology, and is a founding board member of the Institute of Digital Media and the Child Development.

    Law: Melina works to bridge the fields of neuroscience and law, also via research and outreach. As a MacArthur Scholar, she supported the foundation's efforts to use neuroscience to guide law policy and practice. Funded by the foundation, she led multi-year neuroimaging studies investigating memory issues that have relevance to legal policy and practice. She is on the editorial board of the Journal of Science & Law, lectures regularly at law schools, and advises Bay Area law enforcement officials.
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    Development and Validation of Precision Learning Executive Function App
    Anonymous Donor P0531249Sep 1, 2018 - Aug 31, 2020
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Multi-modal Study of Cognitive and Neural Differences in Media Multitaskers
    NIH R56MH111672Aug 11, 2017 - Jul 31, 2021
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
    Science-based Innovation in Learning Center for ELL and LD
    University of California Office of the President MRP-17-454925 2014954Jan 1, 2017 - Dec 31, 2019
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Science of Learning in Adolescence: Integrating Developmental Studies in Animals and Humans
    NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION 00009277 – FAIN 1640885Sep 1, 2016 - Aug 31, 2019
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
    Contributions of Executive Function Subdomains to Math and Reading Cognition in the Classroom
    NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION 1540854Sep 15, 2015 - Aug 31, 2018
    Role: Lead Principal Investigator
    Perceptual Binding and Episodic Memory
    NIH F32MH084475Sep 1, 2008 - Aug 31, 2011
    Role: Principal Investigator

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    Collapse Publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Researchers can login to make corrections and additions, or contact us for help. to make corrections and additions.
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    Altmetrics Details PMC Citations indicate the number of times the publication was cited by articles in PubMed Central, and the Altmetric score represents citations in news articles and social media. (Note that publications are often cited in additional ways that are not shown here.) Fields are based on how the National Library of Medicine (NLM) classifies the publication's journal and might not represent the specific topic of the publication. Translation tags are based on the publication type and the MeSH terms NLM assigns to the publication. Some publications (especially newer ones and publications not in PubMed) might not yet be assigned Field or Translation tags.) Click a Field or Translation tag to filter the publications.
    1. Linking inhibitory control to math achievement via comparison of conflicting decimal numbers. Cognition. 2021 09; 214:104767. Coulanges L, Abreu-Mendoza RA, Varma S, Uncapher MR, Gazzaley A, Anguera J, Rosenberg-Lee M. PMID: 34120094.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    Translation:Humans
    2. Memory failure predicted by attention lapsing and media multitasking. Nature. 2020 11; 587(7832):87-91. Madore KP, Khazenzon AM, Backes CW, Jiang J, Uncapher MR, Norcia AM, Wagner AD. PMID: 33116309; PMCID: PMC7644608.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 3     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    3. Focus on the Breath: Brain Decoding Reveals Internal States of Attention During Meditation. Front Hum Neurosci. 2020; 14:336. Weng HY, Lewis-Peacock JA, Hecht FM, Uncapher MR, Ziegler DA, Farb NAS, Goldman V, Skinner S, Duncan LG, Chao MT, Gazzaley A. PMID: 33005138; PMCID: PMC7483757.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 4  
    4. From the science of learning (and development) to learning engineering. Applied Developmental Science. 2019 Oct 2; 23(4):1-4. Uncapher UM. .
      View in: Publisher Site   Mentions:
    5. Design Considerations for Conducting Large‐Scale Learning Research Using Innovative Technologies in Schools. Mind, Brain, and Education. 2018. . View Publication.
    6. Design Considerations for Conducting Large-Scale Learning Research Using Innovative Technologies in Schools. Mind Brain and Education. 2018 Dec 11; 13(1):62-69. Uncapher UM. .
      View in: Publisher Site   Mentions:
    7. Focus on the breath: Brain decoding reveals internal states of attention during meditation. bioRxiv. 2018 Nov 4; 461590. Weng WH, Lewis-Peacock LJ, Hecht HF, Uncapher UM, Ziegler ZD, Farb FN, Goldman GV, Skinner SS, Duncan DL, Chao CM, Gazzaley GA. .
      View in: Publisher Site   Mentions:
    8. Minds and brains of media multitaskers: Current findings and future directions. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 10 02; 115(40):9889-9896. Uncapher MR, Wagner AD. PMID: 30275312; PMCID: PMC6176627.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 15     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    9. Differential Medial Temporal Lobe and Parietal Cortical Contributions to Real-world Autobiographical Episodic and Autobiographical Semantic Memory. Sci Rep. 2018 04 18; 8(1):6190. Brown TI, Rissman J, Chow TE, Uncapher MR, Wagner AD. PMID: 29670138; PMCID: PMC5906442.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 5     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    10. From the science of learning (and development) to learning engineering. Applied Developmental Science. 2018. View Publication.
    11. Media Multitasking and Cognitive, Psychological, Neural, and Learning Differences. Pediatrics. 2017 Nov; 140(Suppl 2):S62-S66. Uncapher MR, Lin L, Rosen LD, Kirkorian HL, Baron NS, Bailey K, Cantor J, Strayer DL, Parsons TD, Wagner AD. PMID: 29093034; PMCID: PMC5658797.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 15     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    12. Cognitive control, attention, and the other race effect in memory. PLoS One. 2017; 12(3):e0173579. Brown TI, Uncapher MR, Chow TE, Eberhardt JL, Wagner AD. PMID: 28282414; PMCID: PMC5345842.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 5     Fields:    Translation:HumansCTClinical Trials
    13. Media multitasking and memory: Differences in working memory and long-term memory. Psychon Bull Rev. 2016 Apr; 23(2):483-90. Uncapher MR, K Thieu M, Wagner AD. PMID: 26223469; PMCID: PMC4733435.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 16     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    14. Electrocorticography reveals the temporal dynamics of posterior parietal cortical activity during recognition memory decisions. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Sep 01; 112(35):11066-71. Gonzalez A, Hutchinson JB, Uncapher MR, Chen J, LaRocque KF, Foster BL, Rangarajan V, Parvizi J, Wagner AD. PMID: 26283375; PMCID: PMC4568245.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 16     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    15. Goal-Directed Modulation of Neural Memory Patterns: Implications for fMRI-Based Memory Detection. J Neurosci. 2015 Jun 03; 35(22):8531-45. Uncapher MR, Boyd-Meredith JT, Chow TE, Rissman J, Wagner AD. PMID: 26041920; PMCID: PMC6605328.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 7     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    16. Encoding and Retrieval in Episodic Memory. The Wiley Handbook on the Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory. 2015 Mar 13; 84-107. Rugg RM, Johnson JJ, Uncapher UM. .
      View in: Publisher Site   Mentions:
    17. Increased functional connectivity between dorsal posterior parietal and ventral occipitotemporal cortex during uncertain memory decisions. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2015 Jan; 117:71-83. Hutchinson JB, Uncapher MR, Wagner AD. PMID: 24825621; PMCID: PMC4226743.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 8     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    18. Functional heterogeneity in posterior parietal cortex across attention and episodic memory retrieval. Cereb Cortex. 2014 Jan; 24(1):49-66. Hutchinson JB, Uncapher MR, Weiner KS, Bressler DW, Silver MA, Preston AR, Wagner AD. PMID: 23019246; PMCID: PMC3862264.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 51     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    19. Dissociable effects of top-down and bottom-up attention during episodic encoding. J Neurosci. 2011 Aug 31; 31(35):12613-28. Uncapher MR, Hutchinson JB, Wagner AD. PMID: 21880922; PMCID: PMC3172893.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 46     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    20. A roadmap to brain mapping: toward a functional map of human parietal cortex. Neuron. 2010 Jul 15; 67(1):5-8. Uncapher MR, Hutchinson JB, Wagner AD. PMID: 20624586.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 8     Fields:    
    21. Dissociation of the neural correlates of visual and auditory contextual encoding. Neuropsychologia. 2010 Jan; 48(1):137-44. Gottlieb LJ, Uncapher MR, Rugg MD. PMID: 19720071; PMCID: PMC2795095.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 24     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    22. Selecting for memory? The influence of selective attention on the mnemonic binding of contextual information. J Neurosci. 2009 Jun 24; 29(25):8270-9. Uncapher MR, Rugg MD. PMID: 19553466; PMCID: PMC2730727.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 53     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    23. Posterior parietal cortex and episodic retrieval: convergent and divergent effects of attention and memory. Learn Mem. 2009 Jun; 16(6):343-56. Hutchinson JB, Uncapher MR, Wagner AD. PMID: 19470649; PMCID: PMC2704099.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 125     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimals
    24. Posterior parietal cortex and episodic encoding: insights from fMRI subsequent memory effects and dual-attention theory. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2009 Feb; 91(2):139-54. Uncapher MR, Wagner AD. PMID: 19028591; PMCID: PMC2814803.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 128     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    25. Effects of study task on the neural correlates of source encoding. Learn Mem. 2008 Jun; 15(6):417-25. Park H, Uncapher MR, Rugg MD. PMID: 18511693; PMCID: PMC2414252.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 24     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    26. Fractionation of the component processes underlying successful episodic encoding: a combined fMRI and divided-attention study. J Cogn Neurosci. 2008 Feb; 20(2):240-54. Uncapher MR, Rugg MD. PMID: 18275332.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 13     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    27. Encoding-retrieval overlap in human episodic memory: a functional neuroimaging perspective. Prog Brain Res. 2008; 169:339-52. Rugg MD, Johnson JD, Park H, Uncapher MR. PMID: 18394485.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 75     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    28. Episodic encoding is more than the sum of its parts: an fMRI investigation of multifeatural contextual encoding. Neuron. 2006 Nov 09; 52(3):547-56. Uncapher MR, Otten LJ, Rugg MD. PMID: 17088219; PMCID: PMC1687210.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 81     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    29. Neural correlates of differential retrieval orientation: Sustained and item-related components. Neuropsychologia. 2006; 44(14):3000-10. Woodruff CC, Uncapher MR, Rugg MD. PMID: 16930636.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 15     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    30. Effects of divided attention on fMRI correlates of memory encoding. J Cogn Neurosci. 2005 Dec; 17(12):1923-35. Uncapher MR, Rugg MD. PMID: 16356329.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 30     Fields:    Translation:HumansCTClinical Trials
    31. Encoding and the durability of episodic memory: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study. J Neurosci. 2005 Aug 03; 25(31):7260-7. Uncapher MR, Rugg MD. PMID: 16079408; PMCID: PMC6725239.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 38     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    32. Content-specificity of the neural correlates of recollection. Neuropsychologia. 2005; 43(7):1022-32. Woodruff CC, Johnson JD, Uncapher MR, Rugg MD. PMID: 15769488.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 59     Fields:    Translation:HumansCTClinical Trials
    33. Sex-related hemispheric lateralization of amygdala function in emotionally influenced memory: an FMRI investigation. Learn Mem. 2004 May-Jun; 11(3):261-6. Cahill L, Uncapher M, Kilpatrick L, Alkire MT, Turner J. PMID: 15169855; PMCID: PMC419728.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 89     Fields:    Translation:HumansCTClinical Trials
    34. Temporal cortex hypermetabolism in Down syndrome prior to the onset of dementia. Neurology. 2003 Dec 23; 61(12):1673-9. Haier RJ, Alkire MT, White NS, Uncapher MR, Head E, Lott IT, Cotman CW. PMID: 14694028.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 32     Fields:    Translation:HumansCTClinical Trials
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