ARIELLE BASKIN-SOMMERS, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychology and of Psychiatry, Yale University
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Disinhibition is central to many conceptualizations of psychopathology (e.g., substance abuse, psychopathy, externalizing [antisocial personality, low constraint]) and can be expressed in different ways from impulsivity to criminality to decision-making deficits. Although many syndromes of disinhibition display similar behaviors (e.g., impulsivity, aggression, antisocial behavior, substance use), the cognitive-affective deficits associated with each are relatively distinct. Dr. Baskin-Sommers’ research utilizes interdisciplinary theoretical principles and methods (e.g., psychophysiology, neuroimaging, self-report) to distinguish the deficits associated with these phenotypically similar syndromes in order to improve the identification of these syndromes and develop innovative syndrome-specific interventions.

Her research to date has involved a programmatic series of studies that provide evidence regarding the distinct cognitive-affective correlates that underlay different forms of disinhibition. Additionally, her more recent work aims to translate cognitive-affective science into increasingly specific and effective interventions for disinhibited individuals. Pilot work has been completed with regard to externalizing and psychopathic offenders and preliminary analyses are quite promising, demonstrating that you can differentially change behavior if you target cognitive-affective deficits that are specific to a particular syndrome. To the extent that we can distinguish the pre-disposing mechanisms associated with disinhibited syndromes and conceptualize their impact on behavior, we are poised to unravel the problem of disinhibitory psychopathology.

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