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(615) 322-8945
406B MRL

Research Area


Ph.D. (University of Kansas, 1985)


Will not be accepting new graduate students for Fall 2014

Elisabeth Dykens

Professor of Psychology and Human Development
Professor of Psychiatry
Professor of Pediatrics
Director and Annette Schaffer Eskind Professor, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

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.