Congratulations, Dr. Murphy!

On August 27, 2013, Dr. Eric Murphy successfully defended his dissertation, “Amygdala Connectivity during Involuntary Attention in Typical Development and Autism Spectrum Disorders.”  Written under the mentorship of Chandan Vaidya, Professor of Psychology, his dissertation looked at how changes in communication between regions of the brain involved in attention and salience processing may affect how emotional facial expressions draw attention.  In both children with autism and typically developing children from late childhood to late adolescence, he found that when attention was drawn to emotional faces, there was decreased communication between salience processing regions and inhibitory control regions in groups that showed less social maturity. This suggested that mature social processing is related to an ability to inhibit reactions to emotional stimuli.  These findings may provide insight into how changes in involuntary attention to emotional faces impact the development of social maturity.

Eric will be continuing his research as a postdoctoral fellow at Washington University in St. Louis under the mentorship of Deanna Barch and Joan Luby, where he will examine how trait-level differences in affect-sensitivity and cognitive control relate to functional connectivity of attention and emotion networks across various developmental disorders, as well as in typical development.

Well done, Dr. Murphy!