Kevin Pelphrey Is Designated as the Harris Associate Professor

Kevin A. Pelphrey, the recently appointed Harris Associate Professor of Child Psychiatry, specializes in research aimed at understanding the development of social cognition in children with and without autism spectrum disorders and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Pelphrey is the director of the Child Neuroscience Laboratory and a member of the faculty in both the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program and the Cognitive Science Program. His laboratory at the Yale Child Study Center focuses on discovering brain mechanisms underlying social perception (the initial stages of evaluating the intentions and goals of others by analysis of biological motion cues), theory of mind (the ability to make inferences about the mental states of others) and the perception and regulation of emotion. This work employs cognitive neuroscience methods including functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging, diffusion tensor imaging, imaging genetics, visual scanpath recordings and virtual reality techniques.

By studying normal brain function related to social cognition and the abnormal development of these mechanisms in children with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, Pelphrey’s laboratory is working to uncover the building blocks for complex, multi-faceted, social cognitive abilities.

A graduate of North Carolina State University, Pelphrey earned his Ph.D. at the University of Carolina-Chapel Hill. He completed postdoctoral training in cognitive neuroscience at Duke University. Before coming to Yale in 2008, he taught at Carnegie Mellon University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Since 2003, he has served on the core faculty of the Brain Imaging and Analysis Center at Duke.

In 2008, Pelphrey received the Boyd McCandless Award from Division 7 of the American Psychological Association for a distinguished early career theoretical contribution in developmental psychology. He was honored that same year as a co-recipient of the A. Richard Newton Breakthrough Research Award from Microsoft Corporation. His other honors include the John Merck Scholars Award in the Biology of Developmental Disabilities in Children.

A chartered member of the National Institute of Mental Health’s Child Psychopathology and Developmental Disabilities Study Section, Pelphrey has been a member of the National Science Foundation’s Cognitive Neuroscience Panel, among other professional activities.

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