Description of Research Expertise
Treatments to enhance social functioning in adults with autism spectrum disorders. Neurobiology and genetics of of social behavior development, and neurobiology and genetics of autism and spectrum disorders.
autism; social; functioning; skills; behavior; motivation; emotion; genetics; genomics; neurobiology; brain
Measurement of social motivation, social approach, and social interactions in humans and animal models; behavioral genetics, genetic mapping, quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis; neurobiological studies of social behavior phenotypes; psychosocial and biological treatments to improve social functioning.
Our laboratory is interested in the neurobiological and genetic mechanisms of social behavior development, as well as biological mechanisms underlying social motivation, social learning, and social skill acquisition and generalization. Certain highly heritable neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism and schizophrenia spectrum disorders, are characterized by reduced social motivation, increased social anxiety, disruptions in social learning, and impairment in social skill development. Despite its importance, the fundamental biology of these social processes is not well understood, and currently available treatments for these social behavior domains are inadequate.
Our current projects include the following: 1) Studies of treatments to enhance social motivation, social understanding, and social skills and reduce social anxiety in adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD); 2) neural and genetic biomarkers in adults with ASD, 3) studies of the neurobiology and genetics of individual differences in social-emotional behavior development in humans and mouse models; 3) studies of gene-environment interactions in shaping social-emotional development.