Position title: Assistant Professor
Phone: (608) 263-0282
Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology, University of Alabama
Our overarching program of research focuses on the intersection between motor skills and neurobiology in individuals on the autism spectrum. Specifically, we focus on how motor development may serve as a window into neuroanatomy, core symptomatology, and skill development in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We also examine how motor challenges impact the daily lives and occupations of individuals with ASD, and whether motor challenges can be addressed to enhance quality of life. Our research combines brain imaging (Magnetic Resonance Imaging [MRI]; Diffusion Weighted Imaging [DWI]) with quantitative measures of motor function, cognition, and daily living skills in youth with ASD. We are currently pursuing 3 lines of research: (1) Identification of motor challenges and structural brain correlates in ASD. What are the motor challenges in ASD and what can they tell us about the neurobiological basis of ASD? (2) Impact of motor challenges on daily life in ASD. Do motor challenges actually impact daily life? (3) Neuroplasticity and motor intervention in ASD. Can a motor-based intervention invoke neuroplasticity and alleviate core symptoms in ASD? By studying movement, our research has provided unique insights into the symptoms and neurobiological basis of ASD, guiding us into the unchartered territory of the brainstem and providing insight into how motor challenges relate to cognition and daily life among children with ASD. The overall goal for this line of research is 1) to gain a mechanistic understanding of the underlying neurobiology of ASD, particularly as it relates to the brainstem, and 2) to translate the knowledge of motor function and neurobiology to develop occupation-based interventions specifically suited to youth with ASD.
Autism spectrum disorders, motor, diffusion weighted imaging, daily living skills