Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Research

Meg Benningfield

Meg Benningfield, M.D.

The Benningfield lab uses functional MRI to examine neurobiological factors related to vulnerability for addiction including impulsivity, risk taking and reward processing. Impulsivity and risk taking are both determinants and consequences of persistent substance use and are core features of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, itself a risk factor for substance use. Understanding how these factors relate to one another across development is essential for informing prevention and treatment of substance use disorders.

Jennifer Blackford

Jennifer Blackford, Ph.D.

The Blackford lab is working to better understand the genetic and neural substrates of individual differences in emotional reactivity and regulation. Spanning genetics, neuroimaging, and behavioral studies, the lab examines individuals with heightened emotional reactivity and deficits in emotion regulation to understand risk of anxiety disorders and depression. By characterizing the neurocircuitry associated with risk for anxiety and depression, Dr. Blackford hopes to develop new prevention and intervention strategies for high-risk children and develop new treatments for anxiety and depression.

Carissa Cascio

Carissa Cascio, Ph.D.

The Cascio lab focuses on the brain basis of sensory processing differences in individuals with autism spectrum disorders. The lab uses MRI and EEG to try to understand why children with autism often show unexpected responses to touch, sight, and sound. Dr. Cascio focuses especially on the emotional aspect of these sensory responses (i.e., extreme fascination or aversion) and how interactions between sensory and limbic brain systems may contribute to them.


Blythe Corbett, Ph.D.

Dr. Corbett is the director of the Social Emotional NeuroScience Endocrinology (SENSE) lab, a translational research program that aims to evaluate the socioemotional responsivity of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The SENSE lab uses several methods of analysis including sophisticated behavioral observational techniques, functional neuroimaging, and the assessment of biological markers of emotional arousal or stress, such as cortisol. The ultimate goal of these interwoven studies of peer interaction, play, and psychosocial stress is to directly translate into novel treatments.