Carissa J. Cascio, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

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Faculty Appointments
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Associate Professor of PsychologyJames G. Blakemore Chair in Psychiatry #3
Ph.D., Neuroscience, Emory University, Atlanta, GeorgiaB.S., Baylor University, Waco, Texas
Office Address
3057 VPH
1601 23rd Ave South
Nashville, TN 37212
Research Description
Dr. Cascio's research program is focused on sensory and repetitive behaviors in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The lab uses direct observational assessment of sensation, perception, and behavior. These approaches are combined with neuroimaging and neurophysiological approaches such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and event-related potentials (ERP). The goal of the lab is to better understand how basic sensory and limbic neural systems contribute to the complex array of social and communication impairments in ASD. Current projects include: 1) an fMRI study of limbic/reward system activation in response to circumscribed interests in ASD, 2) a DTI study of sensory thalamocortical pathways as they relate to sensory hyper- and hyporesponsiveness in ASD, 3) an ERP study of steady state potentials and sensory processing in a high-risk group of infant siblings of children with ASD. Pilot and methodological projects include: 1) an ERP study of affective touch in children with ASD, 2) development of behavioral approaches for pediatric neuroimaging, including a biofeedback motion training program for use in a mock scanner environment.
Research Keywords
Sensory and repetitive behaviors in autism, using human behavioral and neuroimaging approaches
Cascio C, McGlone F, Folger S, Tannan V, Baranek G, Pelphrey KA, Essick G. Tactile perception in adults with autism: a multidimensional psychophysical study. J Autism Dev Disord [print-electronic]. 2008 Jan; 38(1): 127-37. PMID: 17415630, PMCID: PMC2185746, DOI: 10.1007/s10803-007-0370-8, ISSN: 0162-3257.

Tommerdahl M, Tannan V, Cascio CJ, Baranek GT, Whitsel BL. Vibrotactile adaptation fails to enhance spatial localization in adults with autism. Brain Res [print-electronic]. 2007 Jun 6/18/2007; 1154: 116-23. PMID: 17498672, PMCID: PMC1987714, PII: S0006-8993(07)00856-6, DOI: 10.1016/j.brainres.2007.04.032, ISSN: 0006-8993.

Cascio CJ, Gerig G, Piven J. Diffusion tensor imaging: Application to the study of the developing brain. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2007 Feb; 46(2): 213-23. PMID: 17242625, PII: S0890-8567(09)61829-3, DOI: 10.1097/01.chi.0000246064.93200.e8, ISSN: 0890-8567.

Cascio C, Styner M, Smith RG, Poe MD, Gerig G, Hazlett HC, Jomier M, Bammer R, Piven J. Reduced relationship to cortical white matter volume revealed by tractography-based segmentation of the corpus callosum in young children with developmental delay. Am J Psychiatry. 2006 Dec; 163(12): 2157-63. PMID: 17151168, PII: 163/12/2157, DOI: 10.1176/ajp.2006.163.12.2157, ISSN: 0002-953X.

Styner MA, Oguz I, Smith RG, Cascio C, Jomier M. Corpus callosum subdivision based on a probabilistic model of inter-hemispheric connectivity. Med Image Comput Comput Assist Interv. 2005; 8(Pt 2): 765-72. PMID: 16686029.

Cascio CJ, Sathian K. Temporal cues contribute to tactile perception of roughness. J. Neurosci. 2001 Jul 7/15/2001; 21(14): 5289-96. PMID: 11438604, PII: 21/14/5289, ISSN: 1529-2401.

Gingrich B, Liu Y, Cascio C, Wang Z, Insel TR. Dopamine D2 receptors in the nucleus accumbens are important for social attachment in female prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster). Behav. Neurosci. 2000 Feb; 114(1): 173-83. PMID: 10718272, ISSN: 0735-7044.

Wang Z, Yu G, Cascio C, Liu Y, Gingrich B, Insel TR. Dopamine D2 receptor-mediated regulation of partner preferences in female prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster): a mechanism for pair bonding?. Behav. Neurosci. 1999 Jun; 113(3): 602-11. PMID: 10443786, ISSN: 0735-7044.