The overarching goal of my research is to identify neurobiological subgroups and develop objective biomarkers for individuals with psychiatric and neurological disorders in order to improve biologically-based diagnosis and advance the development of precision medicine for mental health. Biologically-based diagnosis and treatment are extremely limited for some psychiatric conditions, especially neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but also critically-needed to increase early identification and improve treatment outcomes. My early career training has focused on developing expertise in non-invasive neuroimaging approaches for examining participants ranging from young children to adults and my research has focused on identifying the neurobiology underlying typical and atypical neurodevelopment.
Thus far in my early research career, my primary contributions to science fall within four major categories:
1) identifying the neural correlates of different cognitive and behavioral deficits, 2) investigating the neurobiological substrates of treatment response, 3) examining the etiological factors that contribute to atypical brain development in children with autism, and 4) summarizing and increasing accessibility to autism-related research. My earliest research investigated the neurobiology associated with the cognitive deficits of alexithymia, dyslexia, and stress to further develop theories of the underlying mechanisms that contribute to differences in cognitive and behavioral processing. My subsequent dissertation research, in which I began to focus on neurodevelopmental disorders, examined the neural correlates of treatment response to beta-blockers in adults with ASD and also assessed the contribution of cerebellar circuits to autism-related symptoms, which is well-supported from postmortem studies but understudied in clinical populations. During my postdoctoral training, I have been further developing skills for working with young children with and without neurodevelopmental disorders as well as utilizing advanced neuroimaging and neurophysiological approaches to examine the biological mechanisms underlying different types of cognitive and behavioral symptoms. My most recent research has focused on examining the neural correlates of response to behavioral interventions as well as examining the etiological factors that contribute to atypical brain development in twins with autism. The independent line of research that I will continue to develop in my research lab will aim to improve our understanding of typical and atypical brain development and identify objective biomarkers for advancing precision medicine.