I am interested in how the brain works, and gives rise to our experience in the world. This is of course an incredibly complex question, but one that I hope to make a contribution to by studying basic processes such as how the human brain processes and integrates sensory inputs to impact perception and behavior, mechanisms of attention, how speech processing is achieved, and higher-order cognition related to executive function.
My work involves characterizing these processes in healthy adults, charting their developmental course over childhood, and translating these findings to understand the neurobiology of developmental and neuropsychiatric disorders, with an emphasis on autism, schizophrenia, and rare disorders such as 22q11.2 deletion syndrome and Rett syndrome. Non-invasive high-density recordings of the electrical activity of the brain, intracranial recordings in patients, psychophysics, magnetic resonance imaging, sometimes in combination with neuropsychological assessments of cognition and clinical diagnoses, are my primary tools of investigation. Thus for example, using electrophysiological and behavioral measures we have shown that the brain integrates multisensory inputs at very early as well as at later stages of information processing, and that how and where this is achieved is dependent on the stimulus type and the task being performed. What's more, we have shown that multisensory integration, which relies on intact connectivity across anatomically segregated brain areas, has an extended developmental trajectory, and that it is impaired in autism.
I am the co-Director of the Rose F. Kennedy Intellectual and Developmental Research Center at Einstein. I also direct the Human Clinical Phenotyping Core of the RFK IDDRC. The core includes a staff of clinical neuropsychologists, a database manager, and study coordinators, and serves to recruit and characterize participants for Einstein studies. The core maintains a large database of potential research participants. This is composed largely of children, including those with a diagnosis of dyslexia, autism, and RETT syndrome, as well as healthy controls. See the core webpage for more information: http://www.einstein.yu.edu/centers/iddrc/iddrc.aspx?id=30133&ekmensel=15074e5e_4332_4335_btnlinkHumanee.
I am fortunate to have received funding for my research from NIMH, NSF, Autism Speaks, the Wallace Research Foundation, and private donors.