Blythe A. Corbett, Ph.D. : SENSE Lab Director
Dr. Corbett joined the Vanderbilt faculty in August, 2010 and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and member of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. She is a clinical psychologist specializing in pediatric neuropsychology. Dr. Corbett was previously a clinical scientist and faculty member at University of California, Davis Department of Psychiatry and the M.I.N.D. Institute from 2001-2010 before joining the Vanderbilt team.
Dr. Corbett’s young academic career as a clinician-scientist has been a journey from behaviorism to neuroscience, from the macro to the micro, to better understand, inform and treat children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Dr. Corbett is currently exploring the neural substrates and biological processes related to the perception, interpretation and reaction to socioemotional, information in children with autism using a variety of research methods.
A central hypothesis of Dr. Corbett’s studies is that dysregulation of the amygdala may contribute to various impairments in autism including increased response to potentially threatening stimuli, deficits in implicit and explicit emotion perception and limited social cognition. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) permits the in-vivo study of underlying brain regions involved in these processes. As part of the SENSE research program, structural MRI and fMRI probes of socioemotional functioning suggest reduced activity of the amygdala and other limbic brain structures involved in social processing. Structural findings also suggest differences in the size of the amygdala that may be related to age, stress and level of social functioning.
In parallel, Dr. Corbett has been examining emotional functioning as it pertains to stress-responsive neurobiological systems, including the Limbic-Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenocortical (LHPA) axis. Across a series of studies Dr. Corbett and her collaborators have found differences in the diurnal regulation of cortisol in children with autism which include elevations in the evening related to poor response to change throughout the day. Additionally, her studies have shown significant elevations in cortisol in response to various social and nonsocial stimuli when compared to typically developing children of the same age and gender.
Dr. Corbett is committed to designing an affective neuroscience program of translational research that will lead to enhanced assessment and treatment of the social-emotional capabilities of children with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. As part of this commitment, she founded and developed SENSE Theatre, a nonprofit intervention program that utilizes theatre and behavioral science methods to enhance the social and emotional functioning of children with autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders.
- Phone: (615) 936-0280
- Email: email@example.com
- Mail: PMB 40, 230 Appleton Way, Nashville, TN 37203
Deanna Swain: Research Assistant
Deanna received her B.A. in Psychology with a Clinical Concentration at Boston College in May 2011. During her time there, she worked as a research assistant in the Arts and Mind Lab under the direction of Dr. Ellen Winner. She assisted with projects that examined the impacts of acting training on theory of mind, empathy and emotion regulation as well as co-authored a paper that investigated the relationship between music and mathematics. During her senior year, she wrote her honors thesis on the mental representation of musical pitch. Deanna has previously interned at Children’s Hospital in Boston at the Developmental Medicine Center as well as the New England Center for Children, where she administered Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy to children diagnosed with autism
She actively participated in the SENSE Theatre Summer Camp utilizing her shared interests in music and behavioral intervention. Deanna is very interested in helping Dr. Corbett to further develop the SENSE Theatre program. As a SENSE lab member, she will also be assisting in the administration of neuropsychological measures, implementing the peer interaction protocol and preparing subjects for the Hydrocortisone Challenge study.
- Phone: (615) 322-4132
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tori Stromp: Research Assistant
Tori received her B.S. in Psychology with minors in Business Administration and Dance from Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio in June 2009. Following graduation, she worked under Dr. Meredith Frey on cognitive assessments in typical adults, where she created and conducted a computer program to observe reaction time on intelligence tasks. She then worked in the Research Unit on Pediatric Psychopharmacology (RUPP) at the Ohio State University Nisonger Center with Drs. Michael Aman and L. Eugene Arnold. She managed various studies of clinical pharmaceutical trials, side effects of medications, and genetic markers in children with autism spectrum disorders.
Since moving to Nashville, she has become a member of the SENSE Lab team working with Director, Blythe Corbett, Ph.D. at the Vanderbilt University Kennedy Center. Tori is a research assistant on several interwoven studies exploring the social and emotional functioning of children with autism to include the Peer Interaction study and SENSE Theatre. In addition to coordinating the studies, Tori is involved in administering neuropsychological protocols, conducting detailed behavioral coding and preparing subjects for fMRI studies. Tori is also excited to resurrect her passion for dance and performance to assist in SENSE Theatre.
- Phone: (615) 343-2207
- Email: email@example.com