Ursula Bellugi

Distinguished Professor Emerita

Laboratory for Cognitive Neuroscience

Salk Founders' Chair

Ursula Bellugi
Salk Institute for Biological Studies - News


Neurodevelopmental model of Williams Syndrome offers insight into human social brain

LA JOLLA—In a study spanning molecular genetics, stem cells and the sciences of both brain and behavior, researchers at University of California, San Diego and the Salk Institute have created …

“Trust” hormone oxytocin found at heart of rare genetic disorder

LA JOLLA, CA—The hormone oxytocin—often referred to as the “trust” hormone or “love hormone” for its role in stimulating emotional responses—plays an important role in Williams syndrome (WS), according to …

NIH awards Salk Institute $5.5 million grant to study Williams syndrome

LA JOLLA, CA—A multi-institutional team headed by Ursula Bellugi, professor and director of the Laboratory for Cognitive Neuroscience at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, has been awarded a $5.5 …

Language as a window into sociability

LA JOLLA, CA—People with Williams syndrome—known for their indiscriminate friendliness and ease with strangers—process spoken language differently from people with autism spectrum disorders—characterized by social withdrawal and isolation—found researchers at …

The gregarious gene?

La Jolla, CA–Unraveling the genetics of social behavior and cognitive abilities, researchers at the University of Utah and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have traced the role of two …

Three Salk scientists named 2007 AAAS Fellows

LA JOLLA, CA—Professors Ursula Bellugi, Walter Eckhart and Greg E. Lemke have been awarded the distinction of AAAS Fellow, an honor that is bestowed upon members of the American Association …

Salk scientist Ursula Bellugi elected to National Academy of Sciences

La Jolla, CA – Salk Institute professor Ursula Bellugi, who pioneered the study of the biological foundation of language, has been elected a member of the National Academy …

Beyond nature vs. nurture: Williams syndrome across cultures

La Jolla, CA – Nobody questions that the color of our eyes is encoded in our genes. When it comes to behavior the concept of “DNA as …

Williams syndrome, the brain, and music

La Jolla, CA – Children with Williams syndrome, a rare genetic disorder, just love music and will spend hours listening to or making music. Despite averaging an …

Are There “Social Behavior” Genes?

La Jolla, CA – A rare genetic disorder may lead scientists to genes for social behavior, a Salk Institute study has found.

The study zeros in on the genes that may …


BA, Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio
EdD, Harvard University

Awards & Honors

  • Member, National Academy of Sciences, 2008
  • Prize in Neuronal Plasticity from IPSEN Foundation
  • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Two MERIT awards from NICHD
  • Jacob Javitz Neuroscience Investigator Award from NIDCD
  • Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, American Psychological Association
  • Woman of the Decade Award
  • Honorary Degree, Doctor of Science, Gallaudet University, Washington, DC
  • Member, Advisory Council to NIDCD