Tricia Thornton-Wells’s primary research interest is the investigation of the genetic and neural bases of psychiatric and developmental disorders. She uses fMRI and DTI to derive functional and structural brain-based endophenotypes, and she conducts genetic studies to identify novel associations between genes, endophenotypes, and behavior. She employs statistical and computational methods for the joint analysis of genetic and neuroimaging data (i.e., “imaging genetics”).
For the past 3 years, Thornton-Wells has conducted neuroimaging studies in Williams syndrome (WS), focusing the musical profile, non-social anxiety, and heightened empathy that are characteristic of WS. These studies have informed our understanding of brain plasticity in WS and have addressed the neural basis of differences in mood, thinking, and communication. She and her colleagues have been collecting DNA samples and are currently genotyping candidate genes related to sociability and mood in subjects with WS. These studies aim to identify genes or genetic pathways that explain individual variability in sociability and anxiety.
Much of the research completed at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is made possible by the generous contributions of the people and families who participate in research studies. This researcher needs research subjects to complete the studies listed below.
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