Blythe A. Corbett photo

Blythe A. Corbett

Professor, Ph.D.

Professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Blythe A. Corbett, Ph.D. is the James G. Blakemore Chair and Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. She is the Director of the Social Emotional NeuroScience Endocrinology (SENSE) lab, a translational research program focused on better understanding and treating social competence and stress in children, adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) across development.

In recent years, Dr. Corbett’s research has led to important findings related to the timing and trajectory of puberty and psychosocial outcomes. Through generous support from the National Institutes of Health (NIMH) and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), Dr. Corbett’s research aims to better understand, support and track development, especially in autistic females.

Adolescence and differences regarding the onset of puberty and the psychosocial consequences.

Adolescence is the developmental transition of juvenile social and cognitive processes to adult levels. Puberty refers to biological maturation marked by notable changes in hormonal, physical and physiological development resulting in primary and secondary sexual characteristics. These developmental periods are marked by a dramatic rise in the onset of psychiatric conditions including depression, especially in females. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is clinically defined by challenges in reciprocal social communication as well as restricted thoughts and behavior. In fact, many autistic individuals experience significant difficulty adapting to change including developmental transitions underscoring that adolescence may be a time of heightened vulnerability. A 4:1 male-to-female ratio has been reported along with a variety of sex-based differences pertaining to mental health, social communication, camouflaging behavior and physiological profiles. Based on a comprehensive longitudinal study, recent research has revealed differential diagnostic and developmental trajectories in autistic adolescents compared to neurotypical peers spanning 10 to 17 years. Advanced pubertal onset has been shown in autistic females based on breast development and onset of menses placing them at higher risk for mental health concerns. Indeed, autistic youth, especially females, show higher symptoms of depression earlier in adolescence compared to neurotypical peers. In contrast, during middle adolescence/puberty, depressive symptoms in autistic youth begin to decline coinciding with a steady rise in TD youth. Moreover, physiological and hormonal profiles show different diagnostic trajectories. Taken together, findings highlight the impact of developmental effects on psychosocial outcomes in autistic adolescents placing them at higher risk for social and affective challenges.

Scroll naar boven