Elisabeth M. Dykens, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychology, Associate Director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, and Co-Director for the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilites.. Her research examines psychopathology and areas of strength in persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, especially those with genetic syndromes. Her studies focus on the development and correlates of psychopathology and behavioral problems in Prader-Willi syndrome, Williams syndrome, and Down syndrome. These include marked obsessive-compulsive behaviors in Prader-Willi syndrome, heightened anxiety in Williams syndrome, and increased withdrawal and depression in Down syndrome. Dykens also examines profiles of neurocognitive and adaptive strengths and weaknesses in these disorders, and how these unusual profiles refine treatment and shed light on normal development.
Current studies include: (1) physiological and neurological mechanisms of compulsive behavior in persons with Prader-Willi syndrome; (2) visual-spatial strengths in persons with Prader-Willi syndrome; (3) relations between musical strengths and anxiety in persons with Williams syndrome; (4) the trajectory of adaptive skills and maladaptive behaviors in syndromes, including in older adults; (5) families of persons with mental retardation, including stress, coping, and positive outcomes for family members; and (6) contributions from positive psychology to research and intervention in mental retardation.
Representative Publications Dykens, E.M (2000). Psychopathology in children with intellectual disability. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 41, 407-417.
Dykens, E.M. (2002). Are jigsaw puzzle skills "spared" in persons with Prader-Willi syndrome? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 43, 343-352.
Dykens, E.M., Shah, B., Sagun, J., Beck, T., & King, B.H. (2002). Maladaptive behavior in children and adolescents with Down syndrome. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 46, 484-492.
Dykens, E.M., & Shah, B. (2003). Psychiatric disorders in Prader-Willi syndrome: Epidemiology and treatment. CNS Drugs, 17, 167-178.
Dykens, E.M. (2003). The Williams syndrome behavioral phenotype: The "whole person" is missing. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 16, 523-528.
Dykens, E.M. (2003). Anxiety, fears, and phobias in persons with Williams syndrome. Developmental Neuropsychology, 23, 291-316.
Dykens, E.M., & Rosner, B.A. (2006). Psychopathology in persons with Williams syndrome. In C.A. Morris, P.P. Wang, & H.M. Lenhoff (Eds.), Williams-Beuren Syndrome: Research and clinical implications. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 274-293.
Dykens, E.M. (2004). Maladaptive and compulsive behavior in Prader-Willi syndrome: New insights from older adults. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 109, 142-153.
King, B.H., Hodapp, R.M., & Dykens, E.M. (2005). Mental retardation. In H.I. Kaplan & B.J. Sadock (Eds.), Comprehensive textbook of psychiatry (8th edition, Vol 2, pp. 3076-3106). Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins.
Dykens, E.M., Summar, K., & Roof, E. (2005). Adults with Prader-Willi syndrome. C. Reynolds & S. Goldsten (Eds.), Handbook of Neurodevelopmental and Genetic Disorders in Adults (pp. 439-457). New York: Guilford.
Hodapp, R.M., & Dykens, E.M. (2005). Problems of girls and young women with mental retardation. In D Bell-Dolan, S. Foster, & E.Mash (Eds.), Handbook of emotional and behavioral disorders in girls (pp. 239-262). New York: Kluwer Academic.
Hodapp, R.M., Kazemi-Adzhyan, E., Rosner, B.A., & Dykens, E.M. (2006). Adolescents with mental retardation: A new frontier for dual diagnosis work? In D.A. Wolf & E.J. Mash (Eds.), Behavioral and emotional disorders in adolescents (pp. 383-409). New York: Guilford Press.
Dykens, E.M., & Rosner, B.A. (2006). Psychopathology in persons with Williams syndrome. In C.A. Morris, P.P. Wang, & H.M. Lenhoff (Eds.), Williams-Beuren Syndrome: Research, evaluation, and treatment. (pp. 274-293). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Hodapp, R.M., & Dykens, E.M. (2006). Mental retardation. In I. Sigel & A. Renninger (Eds.), Vol. 4 Research to practice (pp. 453-496) of W. Damon & R. Lerner (overall editors), Handbook of Child Psychology. New York: John Wiley & Sons. *
Levitas, A., Dykens, E.M., Finucane, B.M., & Kates, W. (2007). Behavioral phenotypes. In R. Fletcher, E., Loschen, C. Stavrakaki, & M. First (Eds.). Diagnostic Manual-Intellectual Disability: A textbook of diagnosis of mental disorders in persons with intellectual disability (pp. 33-62). Kingston, NY: NADD Press.
Volkmar, F., Dykens, E.M., & Hodapp, R.M. (in press). Mental retardation. In A. Martin & F. Volkmar (EDs.), Lewis Child and Adolescents Psychiatry, 4th Edition.
Hodapp, R.M., Thornton-Wells, T.A., & Dykens, E.M. (in press). Intellectual disabilities. In C. Zeanah (Ed.), Handbook of Infant Mental Health.