Children's Health & Discovery Initiative
Aysenil Belger, PhD is Professor and Director of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, and has served as director of the Clinical Translational Core of the UNC Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center since 2003. She holds joint appointments in the Psychology Department at UNC and at the Brain Imaging and Analysis Center at Duke University. Her research focuses on translational and interdisciplinary studies of the maturation of cortical circuits underlying attention, executive function and emotion processing in the human brain, as well as their breakdown in neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders. Dr. Belger combines functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electrophysiological scalp recording (EEG), functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), experimental psychology and neuropsychological assessment techniques to explore the behavioral and neurophysiological underpinnings of sensory and cognitive impairments across disorders. Her integrative research has most recently examined electrophysiological and functional abnormalities in young autistic children, as well as children, adolescents and adults at clinical and familial risk for psychosis. Dr. Belger is part of a large interdisciplinary team of investigators conducting multi-institutional studies exploring the impact of early childhood abuse and neglect on adult brain function, structure and substance abuse outcomes.