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Dykens, Elisabeth M., Department of Psychology and Human Development

Elisabeth M. Dykens, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychology and Human Development
Associate Director, Kennedy Center
406 MRL Building
615-322-8945 (office)

Elisabeth M. Dykens, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychology and Human Development and Associate Director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development.

Her research examines the behavioral phenotypes of persons with genetics syndromes associated with developmental disabilities, primarily Williams, Prader-Willi, and Down syndromes. Although much of her work focuses on psychopathology, Dykens also examines profiles of neurocognitive, personality, and adaptive strengths and weaknesses in these disorders, and how these unusual profiles refine treatment and shed light on typical development.

Current studies examine: (1) physiological and neurological mechanisms of compulsive and hyperphagic behavior in persons with Prader-Willi syndrome, including specific neuropeptides involved in aberrant satiety and behavior, and EEG/ERP studies; (2) visual-spatial strengths in persons with Prader-Willi syndrome; (3) physiological and neurological factors involved in both high rates of anxiety and unusual musical talents in persons with Williams syndrome,including clinical, EEG/ERP and fMRI studies; (4) the development and trajectory of maladaptive behaviors and unusual strengths in syndromes, and how these relate to genetic status, aging, and intervention; (5) families of persons with mental retardation, including stress, coping, and positive outcomes for family members; and (6) interface between positive psychology, and research and interventions for persons with developmental disabilities.