Berna is full professor of neuroscience of social relations. She received her BA in mathematics at Koç University and her master in developmental psychology at Boğaziçi University in Turkey. In 2008 she received her PhD cum laude in developmental psychology at Radboud University Nijmegen with her thesis investigating the development of peer relationships (friendships, based on mutual likes and antipathy relationships, based in mutual dislikes) in school classes of children and adolescents. Subsequently she joined the Brain and Development Laboratory in Leiden University as a postdoctoral researcher in cognitive neuroscience. In 2010 she received a NWO-VENI grant for her project investigating the neural mechanisms of social interactions with peers.
Her current research the neurocognitive development of social decision-making using various economic exchange paradigms and she is particularly interested in the role of peer relationships in social and cognitive functioning, its neural correlates and their development. Her research combines measures of social networks and peer relationships with experimental tasks and fMRI methods to examine the neural basis of the development of behavior and cognitive functioning in social contexts. Since 2017 she is also a leading investigator for her project within the starting impulse grant of the National Research Agenda (NWA) where she examines the anti-bullying programs in the Netherlands and the neural and physiological underpinnings of chronic victimization.