Associate Professor, Psychological Sciences | Neurodevelopmental Disorders; Research Director, Schubert Center
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).
KidsFirst is an initiative designed solely to benefit kids with autism and their families. Our goal is to make a difference in family’s lives by establishing a community affected by autism and to communicate future research opportunities. We are currently recruiting parents of children (all ages) diagnosed with autism to enroll in a research registry aimed at identifying similarities across children and establishing behavioral classification to better understand autism. At enrollment, we ask parents to answer a ten-minute survey which will guide future requests for information, such as more targeted follow up questions and possible genetic sampling.
The information you provide will help us translate findings into targeted approaches for therapy, care, and intervention. All information gathered will be strictly confidential, anonymized, and encrypted in our HIPAA-compliant repository.
There is no cost to participate and all correspondence is through the registry, email, and telephone. There are no in-person appointments. The International Center for Autism Research and Education (ICARE) at Case Western Reserve University is partnered with the Hartwell Foundation and Stanford University to establish Northeast Ohio as a site in the KidsFirst Research Registry.