Associate Professor | Neurodevelopmental Disorders
My work focuses on examining behavior and cognition of individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders. One of the goals in my lab is to better understand why people who have the same genetic developmental disorder have many of the same behavioral characteristics, why some characteristics vary within a genetic population, and what neurobiological mechanisms account for these behaviors. Alongside cognitive and behavioral assessments, we use brain imaging and eye-tracking to examine cognitive processes associated with specific behavior. Currently, my research is directed at understanding several characteristics of individuals with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS), including hyperphagia and compulsive behavior, as well as social and communication ability in comparison to autism spectrum disorders. In addition, my lab is working to build and evaluate a play-based remote intervention program focused on optimizing development in children with PWS.
- Evaluating the Play-based Remote Enrichment Development (PRETEND) Program in Prader-Willi Syndrome. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of the PRETEND Program, a remote intervention program for families of children with PWS delivered via a video-conferencing platform and featuring parent training and direct play-based intervention for children. Program goals include increasing children’s play skills, emotional regulation, and cognitive and behavioral flexibility. This work is supported by a grant from the Foundation for Prader-Willi Syndrome Research (FPWR).
- Developing Objective Biomarkers of Hyperphagia in Children with Prader-Willi Syndrome. Hyperphagia is a distinctive feature of PWS that can cause significant challenges for individuals and caregivers. Up to this point, characterization of hyperphagia has most commonly relied on caregiver report, an indirect measure that may be subject to bias. The purpose of this study is to investigate the use of eye-tracking as a way to objectively measure and better understand the development of hyperphagia symptoms in individuals with PWS. This work is supported by a grant from the Foundation for Prader-Willi Syndrome Research (FPWR).