Sonia Bishop, PhD

Sonia Bishop

Assistant Professor


Research Area
Systems and Computational Neuroscience

3413 Tolman Hall
Berkeley, CA


(510) 642-5292


Cognition, Brain & Behavior; Clinical Science

Research Areas: Systems and Computational Neuroscience

My research program focuses on the question of how anxiety, other trait characteristics, and differences in genetic make-up impact the neural mechanisms underlying the controlled processing of salient stimuli. Different projects within my lab focus upon individual differences in the recruitment of ‘top-down’ control mechanisms (e.g. attentional control mechanisms), factors influencing the strength of activation of ‘bottom-up’ emotional saliency mechanisms, and factors determining the interplay of these ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ mechanisms and the resultant influences on behavior.

Questions I am concerned with range from: do threat-related distractors compete for attention in the same way as perceptually salient distractors or distractors giving rise to response conflict? At what stage of processing do the modulatory effects of anxiety take place? Is anxiety associated with impoverished recruitment of prefrontal attentional control mechanisms even in the absence of threat? How does the processing of negative and positive stimuli differ? Does the evidence support either ‘weak’ or ‘strong’ automaticity accounts of the processing of emotionally salient stimuli? Can we identify genetic factors that modulate the neural systems underlying threat detection, reward processing and cognitive control? We address these questions from a number of different perspectives using approaches including cognitive-behavioral studies, functional neuro-imaging, functional genetics, and work with clinical populations.

Selected Publications

Indovina, I., Robbins, T., Nunez-Elizalde, A., Dunn, B., Bishop, S.J. (2011) Fear-Conditioning Mechanisms Associated with Trait Vulnerability to Anxiety. Neuron 69, 563-571.

Bishop, S.J. (2009) Trait anxiety and impoverished prefrontal control of attention. Nature Neuroscience 12, 92-98.

Bishop, S.J. (2008) Neural mechanisms underlying selective attention to threat. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1129, 141-52.

Bishop, S.J., Fossella, J., Croucher, C., Duncan, J. (2008) COMT val 158 met genotype affects recruitment of neural mechanisms supporting fluid intelligence. Cerebral Cortex 18, 2132-40.

Bishop, S.J. (2007) Neurocognitive mechanisms of anxiety: an integrative account. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 11, 307-16.

Bishop, S.J., Jenkins, R, Lawrence, A. (2007) The neural processing of task-irrelevant fearful faces: effects of perceptual load and individual differences in trait and state anxiety. Cerebral Cortex. 17, 1595-603.

Bishop, S.J., Cohen, J.D., Fossella, J., Casey, BJ, Farah, M. (2006). COMT genotype influences prefrontal response to emotional distraction. Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 6, 62-70.

Bishop, S.J., Duncan,J., Lawrence, A. (2004) State Anxiety modulation of the amygdala response to unattended threat-related stimuli. Journal of Neuroscience 24, 10364-8

Bishop, S. J., Duncan, J., Brett, M., Lawrence, A. (2004) Prefrontal cortical function and anxiety: controlling attention to threat-related stimuli. Nature Neuroscience 7,184-8.

Bishop, S.J., Dalgleish, T., Yule,W. (2004) Recalling stories: memory for emotional information in high and low depressed children. Memory 12, 214-230

Fossella J., Bishop, S. J. Casey, B.J. (2003). Exploring genetic influences on cognition: Emerging strategies for target validation and treatment optimization Current Drug Targets – CNS & Neurological Disorders. 2, 357-62.