School of Medicine
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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.
Daniel Arthur Abrams
Clinical Assistant 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.
Instructor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsMy research lies in the intersection of Machine Learning, Computer Vision and Medical Imaging.
Clinical Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
BioSteven Adelsheim, MD is a child/adolescent and adult psychiatrist who works to support community behavioral health partnerships locally, regionally, at the state level and nationally. He is the Director of the Stanford Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Adelsheim has partnered in developing statewide mental health policy and systems, including those focused on school mental health, telebehavioral health, tribal behavioral health programs, and suicide prevention. For many years Dr. Adelsheim has been developing and implementing early detection/intervention programs for young people in school-based and primary care settings, including programs for depression, anxiety, prodromal symptoms of psychosis, and first episodes of psychosis. Dr. Adelsheim is also involved in the implementation of integrated behavioral health care models in primary care settings as well as the use of media to decrease stigma surrounding mental health issues. He is currently leading the US effort to implement the headspace model of mental health early intervention for young people ages 12-25 based in Australia. Dr. Adelsheim also leads the national clinical network for early psychosis programs called PEPPNET.
Clinical Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsI am interested in the design and delivery of clinical care using, data and technology. I have focused on disordered eating behaviors and obesity.
W. Stewart Agras
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emeritus
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsMy research is focused on disorders of human feeding including the eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Ongoing or recently completed studies include: A controlled trial of the implementation of interpersonal psychotherapy for eating disorders and depression on college campuses across the U.S. A multisite controlled study of two types of family therapy for the treatment of adolescent anorexia nervosa. Early prevemtion of overweight and obesity.
Assistant Professor of Radiology (Neuroimaging) and, by courtesy, of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsOur goal is to develop and clinically implement new technologies for high-precision and noninvasive intervention upon the nervous system. Every few millimeters of the brain is functionally distinct, and different parts of the brain may have counteracting responses to therapy. To better match our therapies to neuroscience, we develop techniques that allow intervention upon only the right part of the nervous system at the right time, using technologies like focused ultrasound and nanotechnology.