School of Medicine
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Alexandria C Aarrestad
Clinical Research Coordinator, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences - Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Child Development
Current Role at StanfordClinical Research Coordinator in the Stanford Autism and Developmental Disorders Research Program
Elias Aboujaoude, MD, MA
Clinical Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
BioDr. Aboujaoude is a Clinical Professor, researcher and writer at Stanford University's Department of Psychiatry, where he is Chief of the Anxiety Disorders Section and Director of the OCD Clinic and the Impulse Control Disorders Clinic. Besides the compulsivity-impulsivity spectrum, his work has focused on the intersection of technology and psychology, with an emphasis on the problematic use of Internet-related technologies, mental health in a post-privacy world, and the potential for telemedicine interventions such as virtual reality and video-based therapy to increase access to care and advance global health. His books include "Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the e-Personality" and "Mental Heath in the Digital Age: Grave Dangers, Great Promise". Dr. Aboujaoude also teaches psychology on the main Stanford campus and at UC Berkeley. Scholarly and media platforms that have featured his work include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, The Harvard Business Review, The Chronicle of Higher Education, BBC, PBS, and CNN.
Clinical Research Coordinator Associate, Psych/General Psychiatry and Psychology (Adult)
BioAysha Abraibesh, MPA is a clinical research coordinator in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine. She works primarily on the Stanford Apnea and Insomnia Study (AIR) Study, led by Dr. Rachel Manber (more info can be found at airstudy.stanford.edu)
Aysha earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology (2012) and Master’s in Public Administration (2013) both from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. She has since held multiple positions supporting research studies related to social and behavioral health issues, most recently as a Lead Behavioral Health Interviewer at Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon.
Daniel A. Abrams
Clinical Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsAutism spectrum disorders (ASD) are among the most pervasive neurodevelopmental disorders and are characterized by significant deficits in social communication. A common observation in children with ASD is that affected individuals often “tune out” from social interactions, which likely impacts the development of social, communication, and language skills. My primary research goals are to understand why children with ASD often tune out from the social world and how this impacts social skill and brain development, and to identify remediation strategies that motivate children with ASD to engage in social interactions. The theoretical framework that guides my work is that social impairments in ASD stem from a primary deficit in identifying social stimuli, such as human voices and faces, as rewarding and salient stimuli, thereby precluding children with ASD from engaging with these stimuli.
My program of research has provided important information regarding the brain circuits underlying social deficits in ASD. Importantly, these findings have consistently implicated key structures of the brain’s reward and salience processing systems, and support the hypothesis that impaired reward attribution to social stimuli is a critical aspect of social difficulties in ASD. The first study produced by this program of research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and showed that children with ASD have weak brain connectivity between voice processing regions of cortex and the distributed reward circuit and amygdala. Moreover, the strength of these speech-reward brain connections predicted social communication abilities in these children. A second study, which was recently published in eLife, examined neural processing of mother’s voice, a biologically salient and implicitly rewarding sound which is associated with cognitive and social development, in children with ASD. Results from this study identified a relationship between social communication abilities in children with ASD and brain activation in reward and salience processing regions during mother’s voice processing. A third study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that mother’s voice activates an extended voice processing network, including reward and salience processing regions, in typically developing children. Moreover, the strength of brain connectivity between voice-selective and reward and salience processing regions predicted social communication abilities in these neurotypical children. Together, results provide novel support for the hypothesis that deficits in representing the reward value of social stimuli, including the human voice, impede children with ASD from actively engaging with these stimuli and consequently impair social skill development.
My future research will leverage these findings by examining several important questions related to social information processing in children with ASD. First, we aim to study longitudinal development of social brain circuitry in minimally verbal children with ASD, a severely affected subpopulation that has been vastly underrepresented in the ASD literature. Second, we aim to examine the efficacy of naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions, such as Pivotal Response Treatment, for children with ASD and their relation to changes in social brain and reward circuitry. Third, we aim to examine distinct neural profiles in female children with ASD who, on average, have better social communication abilities compared to their male counterparts.
Clinical Assistant Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
BioDr. Connor Adams (she/they) is a Clinical Assistant Professor who received her doctorate in psychology from the George Washington University and completed her internship training at Harvard Medical School/Cambridge Health Alliance. Her clinical and research interests center on therapeutic interventions that support recovery for individuals living with serious mental illness. Dr. Adams grounds her work in a psychodynamic perspective, assisting individuals in understanding why they think, feel, and behave the way they do, in order to increase agency and choice. Dr. Adams has specialized training in comprehensive Dialectical Behavior Therapy and provides treatment for individuals with emotion regulation difficulties. She also has specialized training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Psychosis (CBTp). Additionally, Dr. Adams provides individual and group psychotherapy within the psychiatric inpatient treatment setting. She is broadly interested in increasing access to person-centered and recovery-oriented care.