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SEAHLab research focuses on how neural and psychological processes (emotion-processing, cognition, and social reward) interact to contribute to positive and negative health states. We ask questions such as:


  • How do our brains respond to emotional information? Then in turn, how does that affect our mood? 

  • Do patterns in how we think about emotional information change the pathways between short-term affect and longer-term mood? 

  • Does our level of interest in having social experiences affect our mental and physical health? What about the ​quality of those social experiences?


We believe that the answers to these questions will help us contribute to more effective interventions, particularly to treat or prevent depression in autistic adults.

Read about our Ongoing Projects below, or click here for a list of Representative Work

Ongoing Projects

"2m2x" College Health Study

2m2x is a multi-site, longitudinal study exploring social and emotional health outcomes in both autistic and non-autistic first-semester college students. We call it "2m2x" because participants are asked to take a two minute survey twice per week on smart devices during their first semester.

Roundabout Minds Project

The Roundabout Minds Project is a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) funded study in which we seek to characterize repetitive thinking in autistic adults using behavioral and psychophysiological tools, and look for associations between facets of repetitive thinking and markers of positive and negative health states.

Adult Well-Being Study

The Adult Well-Being Study was conducted at Vanderbilt University Medical Center as part of Dr. Gotham's early career development award from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Under Dr. Gotham's direction, we continue to analyze and publish on these data to explore candidate shared mechanisms between

autism and depression. 

Tracking the Blues in Minimally Verbal Adults (TBMVA)

TBMVA continues the methodology of the Roundabout Minds Project, with a focus on individuals who are minimally speaking. This study explores how caregiver-rated depressive symptoms relate to pupil responses to sad faces in autistic adults with limited or no spoken language. The purpose of this study is to contribute both a direct means to index depressed mood in minimally verbal autistic (MVA) adults, as well as to potentially validate caregiver reports of depressive symptoms for autistic adults with limited or no spoken language 

Applied Consent Communication Study

In this study, led by grad student Erin McKenney, we aim to better understand differences in sexual
consent education and communication between
autistic and non-autistic young adults.  

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