Benjamin B. Lahey

University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States

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Publications (270)1125.69 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Children who met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) criteria for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with functional impairment in at least one setting at 4-6 years of age were followed prospectively through age 18 years. On average, the 125 children (107 boys) with ADHD at baseline improved over time, but still continued to exhibit more symptoms, functional impairment, and risky behavior through adolescence than demographically matched healthy comparison children. These findings support the predictive validity of the diagnosis of ADHD at younger ages by demonstrating that the symptoms and impairment are enduring. Nonetheless, there were marked variations in developmental outcomes. Among children with ADHD, higher numbers of inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity symptoms and higher number of concurrent symptoms (oppositional, conduct disorder, anxiety, and depression) measured at baseline each predicted higher future levels of the same dimension of symptoms. In addition, higher baseline levels of inattention, oppositional, conduct disorder, and anxiety symptoms predicted greater future functional impairment. Among children with ADHD, girls and children from families with lower family incomes had relatively poorer outcomes. Although outcomes varied along a continuum, approximately 10% of the children with ADHD at 4-6 years could be classified as functioning in the normative range on multiple measures during 15-18 years. Although this finding awaits replication, lower levels of hyperactivity-impulsivity symptoms at 4-6 years predicted more normative functioning during adolescence. These findings suggest that ADHD identified in early childhood predicts an increased likelihood of functional impairment through adolescence for most, but not all, children. (PsycINFO Database Record
    No preview · Article · Feb 2016 · Journal of Abnormal Psychology
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    Keith J. Yoder · Benjamin B. Lahey · Jean Decety
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    ABSTRACT: The presence of elevated callous unemotional (CU) traits seems to designate a distinct group of children and adolescents with serious conduct problems. However, the extent to which CU traits impact the aversive reaction to harm is still a contentious issue. Here, we examined the effective connectivity seeded in the anterior insula and anterior cingulate cortex in a large number of children (N = 123, age 9–11, 60 females) with various levels of conduct disorder (CD) symptoms in response to visual stimuli depicting other people being physically injured. Perceiving others being harmed was associated with increased hemodynamic activity in the left amygdala and right temporoparietal junction (rTPJ). Children with higher callous traits showed less functional connectivity seeded in anterior cingulate with left amygdala and anterior insula. Conversely, CD symptoms were positively related to connectivity of insula with rTPJ. Overall, these results suggest that callousness is marked by the disruption of widespread cortical networks responsible for detecting and appropriately responding to important environmental cues, such as the distress of others.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2016 · Scientific Reports
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    ABSTRACT: We examined associations of maternal age at childbearing (MAC) with gestational age and fetal growth (i.e., birth weight adjusting for gestational age), using two genetically informed designs (cousin and sibling comparisons) and data from two cohorts, a population-based Swedish sample and a nationally representative United States sample. We also conducted sensitivity analyses to test limitations of the designs. The findings were consistent across samples and suggested that, associations observed in the population between younger MAC and shorter gestational age were confounded by shared familial factors; however, associations of advanced MAC with shorter gestational age remained robust after accounting for shared familial factors. In contrast to the gestational age findings, neither early nor advanced MAC was associated with lower fetal growth after accounting for shared familial factors. Given certain assumptions, these findings provide support for a causal association between advanced MAC and shorter gestational age. The results also suggest that there are not causal associations between early MAC and shorter gestational age, between early MAC and lower fetal growth, and between advanced MAC and lower fetal growth.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Behavior Genetics
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    ABSTRACT: In many human brain network studies, we do not have sufficient number (n) of images relative to the number (p) of voxels due to the prohibitively expensive cost of scanning enough subjects. Thus, brain network models usually suffer the small-n large-p problem. Such a problem is often remedied by sparse network models, which are usually solved numerically by optimizing L1-penalties. Unfortunately, due to the computational bottleneck associated with optimizing L1-penalties, it is not practical to apply such methods to learn large-scale brain networks. In this paper, we introduce a new sparse network model based on cross-correlations that bypass the computational bottleneck. Our model can build the sparse brain networks at voxel level with p > 25000. Instead of using a single sparse parameter that may not be optimal in other studies and datasets, we propose to analyze the collection of networks at every possible sparse parameter in a coherent mathematical framework using graph filtrations. The method is subsequently applied in determining the extend of genetic effects on functional brain networks at voxel-level for the first time using twin fMRI.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015
  • Benjamin B Lahey

    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · JAMA Psychiatry
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    Jean Decety · Keith J Yoder · Benjamin B Lahey
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    ABSTRACT: Associations between white matter pathway abnormalities and antisocial personality disorder in adults are well replicated, and there is some evidence for an association of white matter abnormalities with conduct disorder (CD) in adolescents. In this study, white matter maturation using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was examined in 110 children aged 10.0±0.8 years selected to vary widely in their numbers of CD symptoms. The results replicated age-related increases in fractional anisotropy (FA) found in previous studies. There was not a significant association between the number of CD symptoms and FA, but CD symptoms were found to be significantly associated with greater axial and radial diffusivity in a broad range of white matter tracts, particularly in girls. In complementary analyses, there were similar significant differences in axial and radial diffusivity between children who met diagnostic criteria for CD and healthy children with no symptoms of CD, particularly in girls. Brain structural abnormalities may contribute to the emergence of CD in childhood, perhaps playing a greater role in girls. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging
  • Victoria Villalta-Gil · Benjamin B. Lahey · David H. Zald

    No preview · Conference Paper · May 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Discovering the genetic basis of early-onset psychiatric disorders has been the aim of intensive research during the last decade. We will first selectively summarize results of genetic research in child and adolescent psychiatry by using examples from different disorders and discuss methodological issues, emerging questions and future directions. In the second part of this review, we will focus on how to link genetic causes of disorders with physiological pathways, discuss the impact of genetic findings on diagnostic systems, prevention and therapeutic interventions. Finally we will highlight some ethical aspects connected to genetic research in child and adolescent psychiatry. Advances in molecular genetic methods have led to insights into the genetic architecture of psychiatric disorders, but not yet provided definite pathways to pathophysiology. If replicated, promising findings from genetic studies might in some cases lead to personalized treatments. On the one hand, knowledge of the genetic basis of disorders may influence diagnostic categories. On the other hand, models also suggest studying the genetic architecture of psychiatric disorders across diagnoses and clinical groups.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
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    Kalina J Michalska · Jean Decety · Thomas A. Zeffiro · Benjamin B. Lahey
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    ABSTRACT: Because the disruptive behavior disorders are highly impairing conditions, it is important to determine if structural variations in brain are associated early in life with these problems among children. Structural MRI data were acquired from 111 9-11 year olds (58 girls and 53 boys), 43 who met diagnostic criteria for oppositional defiant disorder and/or conduct disorder and 68 healthy controls. Voxel-based morphometry was used to examine associations of behavioral measures with gray matter volumes in whole-brain analyses. Unlike previous studies, variation in gray matter volume was not found to be associated with a disruptive behavior disorder diagnosis in any brain region at p < .o5 with FWE correction. Nonetheless, an inverse nonlinear association of the number of conduct disorder (CD) symptoms with gray matter volume along the left superior temporal sulcus was significant in the full sample (p < .o5 with FWE correction), with a trend in the right hemisphere (p < 0.001 uncorrected). There also was a trend towards a stronger association of the number of CD symptoms with gray matter volume along the left superior temporal sulcus in girls than boys. The present findings did not replicate previous findings of reduced gray matter volumes in the anterior insula, amygdala, and frontal cortex in youth with CD, but are consistent with previous findings of reduced gray matter volumes in temporal regions, particularly in girls.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2014 · Clinical neuroimaging
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    Soo Hyun Rhee · Benjamin B. Lahey · Irwin D. Waldman
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    ABSTRACT: In this article, we review evidence from recent behavior genetic studies that examined the covariance among common childhood psychopathological conditions and tested specific hypotheses regarding common and broadband-specific underlying features of childhood psychopathology. Specifically, we review the distinction between internalizing and externalizing disorders, the support for the generalist genes and specialist environments model, negative emotionality as a heritable underlying feature common to both internalizing and externalizing disorders, and daring as a heritable broadband-specific underlying feature that distinguishes externalizing disorders from internalizing disorders. We also discuss the implications of research in the search for specific genes that influence childhood psychopathology and suggest avenues for new research.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2014 · Child Development Perspectives
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    ABSTRACT: A powerful longitudinal data source, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth Children data, allows measurement of behavior problems (BP) within a developmental perspective linking them to menarcheal timing (MT). In a preliminary analysis, we evaluate the bivariate relationships between BP measured at different developmental periods and the timing of menarche. Correlations were not consistent with any correlational/causal relationship between BP and MT. In the major part of our study, MT was used to moderate the developmental trajectory of BP, within a genetically-informed design. Girls reaching menarche early had behavior problem variance accounted for by the shared environment; those reaching menarche with average/late timing had behavior problem differences accounted for by genetic variance. Our findings match previous empirical results in important ways, and also extend those results. A theoretical interpretation is offered in relation to a theory linking genetic/shared environmental variance to flexibility and choices available within the family in relation to BP.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Behavior Genetics
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    ABSTRACT: Importance Mental disorders predict future occurrences of both the same disorder (homotypic continuity) and other disorders (heterotypic continuity). Heterotypic continuity is inconsistent with a view of mental disorders as fixed entities. In contrast, hierarchical-dimensional conceptualizations of psychopathology, in which each form of psychopathology is hypothesized to have both unique and broadly shared etiologies and mechanisms, predict both homotypic and heterotypic continuity.Objective To test predictions derived from a hierarchical-dimensional model of psychopathology that (1) heterotypic continuity is widespread, even controlling for homotypic continuity, and that (2) the relative magnitudes of heterotypic continuities recapitulate the relative magnitudes of cross-sectional correlations among diagnoses at baseline.Design, Setting, and Participants Ten prevalent diagnoses were assessed in the same person twice (ie, in 2 waves separated by 3 years). We used a representative sample of adults in the United States (ie, 28 958 participants 18-64 years of age in the National Epidemiologic Study of Alcohol and Related Conditions who were assessed in both waves).Main Outcomes and Measures Diagnoses from reliable and valid structured interviews.Results Adjusting for sex and age, we found that bivariate associations of all pairs of diagnoses from wave 1 to wave 2 exceeded chance levels (P < .05) for all homotypic (median tetrachoric correlation of ρ = 0.54 [range, 0.41-0.79]) and for nearly all heterotypic continuities (median tetrachoric correlation of ρ = 0.28 [range, 0.07-0.50]). Significant heterotypic continuity was widespread even when all wave 1 diagnoses (including the same diagnosis) were simultaneous predictors of each wave 2 diagnosis. The rank correlation between age- and sex-adjusted tetrachoric correlation for cross-sectional associations among wave 1 diagnoses and for heterotypic associations from wave 1 to wave 2 diagnoses was ρ = 0.86 (P < .001).Conclusions and Relevance For these prevalent mental disorders, heterotypic continuity was nearly universal and not an artifact of failure to control for homotypic continuity. Furthermore, the relative magnitudes of heterotypic continuity closely mirrored the relative magnitudes of cross-sectional associations among these disorders, consistent with the hypothesis that both sets of associations reflect the same factors. Mental disorders are not fixed and independent entities. Rather, each diagnosis is robustly related to other diagnoses in a correlational structure that is manifested both concurrently and in patterns of heterotypic continuity across time.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · JAMA Psychiatry
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    ABSTRACT: Serotonergic dysfunctions are implicated in conduct disorder, impulsivity, and aggression. Early adverse experiences increase the risk for these behaviors in adolescents. The authors investigated serotonergic activity in one adolescent male who experienced maternal abandonment and childhood abuse and exhibited severely aggressive sexual offenses. Platelet serotonin (5-HT) concentration, [14C]-5HT uptake kinetics, and plasma prolactin, cortisol response to D,L-fenfluramine (D,L-FEN) were measured. Results showed extremely low 5-HT concentration (2.960.7 ng/108 platelets), [14C]-5HT uptake rate (0.560.04 mM/min/107platelets), undetectable Km and Vmax, and abnormally blunted prolactin, cortisol response to D,L-FEN. These abnormalities in this sexually aggressive adolescent may be a consequence of childhood abuse.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences
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    ABSTRACT: Background The best-fitting model of the structure of common psychopathology often includes a general factor on which all dimensions of psychopathology load. Such a general factor would be important if it reflects etiologies and mechanisms shared by all dimensions of psychopathology. Nonetheless, a viable alternative explanation is that the general factor is partly or wholly a result of common method variance or other systematic measurement biases.Methods To test this alternative explanation, we extracted general, externalizing, and internalizing factor scores using mother-reported symptoms across 5–11 years of age in confirmatory factor analyses of data from a representative longitudinal study of 2,450 girls. Independent associations between the three psychopathology factor scores and teacher-reported criterion variables were estimated in multiple regression, controlling intelligence, and demographic covariates.ResultsThe model including the general factor fit significantly better than a correlated two-factor (internalizing/externalizing) model. The general factor was robustly and independently associated with all measures of teacher-reported school functioning concurrently during childhood and prospectively during adolescence.Conclusions These findings weaken the hypothesis that the general factor of psychopathology in childhood is solely a measurement artifact and support further research on the substantive meaning of the general factor.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2014 · Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
  • Brian Donofrio · Quetzal A Class · Benjamin B Lahey · Henrik Larsson
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    ABSTRACT: The Developmental Origin of Health and Disease (DOHaD) hypothesis is a broad theoretical framework that emphasizes how early risk factors causally influence psychopathology. Researchers have raised concerns about the causal interpretation of statistical associations between early risk factors and later psychopathology because most studies have been unable to rule out the possibility of environmental and genetic confounding. In this article, we illustrate how family-based, quasi-experimental designs can test the DOHaD hypothesis by ruling out alternative hypotheses. We review the logic underlying sibling-comparison, cotwin control, offspring of siblings/twins, adoption, and in vitro fertilization designs. We then present results from studies using these designs focused on broad indices of fetal development (low birth weight and gestational age) and a particular teratogen, smoking during pregnancy. The results provide mixed support for the DOHaD hypothesis for psychopathology, illustrating the critical need to use designs that rule out unmeasured confounding.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2014 · Child Development Perspectives
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    ABSTRACT: Adolescents with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at an increased risk for substance use but the pathways through which this risk emerges are insufficiently understood. Tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana outcomes were compared between adolescents diagnosed with ADHD in early childhood (N = 113) and demographically similar controls (N = 65). Participants were assessed from age 5 until age 18. A comprehensive history of adolescent substance use was compiled for each participant and growth in ADHD and conduct disorder (CD) were modeled as they related to substance use outcomes. Results indicated that when compared with controls, adolescents with ADHD were more likely to try cigarettes, initiate alcohol use at early ages, and smoke marijuana more frequently. Furthermore, adolescents with ADHD were 4 to 5 times more likely than controls to escalate to heavy cigarette and marijuana use after trying these substances once. Adolescents with ADHD who escalated to heavy use patterns were more likely to display early cigarette use and marked problems with family members, but displayed fewer peer problems. There was evidence of baseline effects (latent intercept, measured at age 5) for both ADHD and CD on substance use outcomes. Furthermore, growth in ADHD symptoms accounted for much of the growth in CD symptoms, and consequently, escalating CD symptoms in childhood (latent slope) were viewed as a mediator of the relationship between ADHD and cigarette and marijuana use. Maternal drinking in early childhood was the strongest predictor of early adolescent alcohol use. These findings are discussed with respect to the role of ADHD in the development of adolescent risk outcomes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
    No preview · Article · May 2014 · Journal of Abnormal Psychology
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    ABSTRACT: Associations among receptive vocabulary measured at 4-9 years, mother-reported childhood conduct problems at 4-9 years, and self-reported adolescent delinquency at 14-17 years were assessed using data from a prospective study of the offspring of a large U.S. nationally representative sample of women. A novel quasi-experimental strategy was used to rule out family-level confounding by estimating path-analytic associations within families in a sibling comparison design. This allowed simultaneous tests of the direct and indirect effects of receptive vocabulary and childhood conduct problems, and of their joint moderation, on adolescent delinquency without family-level environmental confounding. The significant association of receptive vocabulary with later adolescent delinquency was indirect, mediated by childhood conduct problems. Furthermore, a significant interaction between receptive vocabulary and childhood conduct problems reflected a steeper slope for the predictive association between childhood conduct problems and adolescent delinquency when receptive vocabulary scores were higher. These findings of significant indirect association were qualitatively identical in both population-level and within-family analyses, suggesting that they are not the result of family-level confounds.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2014 · Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Well-validated models of maternal behavior in small-brain mammals posit a central role of oxytocin in parenting, by reducing stress and enhancing the reward value of social interactions with offspring. In contrast, human studies are only beginning to gain insights into how oxytocin modulates maternal behavior and affiliation. Methods: To explore associations between oxytocin receptor genes and maternal parenting behavior in humans, we conducted a genetic imaging study of women selected to exhibit a wide range of observed parenting when their children were 4–6 years old. Results: In response to child stimuli during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), hemodynamic responses in brain regions that mediate affect, reward, and social behavior were significantly correlated with observed positive parenting. Furthermore, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (rs53576 and rs1042778) in the gene encoding the oxytocin receptor were significantly associated with both positive parenting and hemodynamic responses to child stimuli in orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and hippocampus. Conclusions: These findings contribute to the emerging literature on the role of oxytocin in human social behavior and support the feasibility of tracing biological pathways from genes to neural regions to positive maternal parenting behaviors in humans using genetic imaging methods.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Benjamin B Lahey
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    ABSTRACT: Frick, Ray, Thornton, and Kahn (2014) presented a comprehensive and well-articulated review of studies relevant to the validity and utility of using callous-unemotional traits to subtype the diagnosis of conduct disorder (CD). Like definitions of subtypes of CD in previous versions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the available evidence on the validity of the new subtypes of CD in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.; DSM-5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013) based on callous-unemotional traits is thin. Nonetheless, the target article makes a compelling argument for further study of callous-unemotional and related traits to better understand the heterogeneity of CD. In particular, the possibilities that callous-unemotional traits may facilitate understanding of etiology and psychobiological mechanisms and may help predict the prognosis and treatment outcomes of children with CD deserve greater study. Future research must be stronger than previous research, however, in using more appropriate samples of children with CD along with more informative designs, and in conducting analyses to directly test the incremental validity of callous-unemotional traits as a subtyping variable beyond the severity or aggressiveness of CD. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
    No preview · Article · Jan 2014 · Psychological Bulletin
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    ABSTRACT: Previous research using confirmatory factor analysis to model psychopathology comorbidity has supported the hypothesis of a broad general factor (i.e., a "bifactor"; Holzinger & Swineford, 1937) of psychopathology in children, adolescents, and adults, with more specific higher order internalizing and externalizing factors reflecting additional shared variance in symptoms (Lahey et al., 2012; Lahey, van Hulle, Singh, Waldman, & Rathouz, 2011). The psychological nature of this general factor has not been explored, however. The current study tested a prediction, derived from the spectrum hypothesis of personality and psychopathology, that variance in a general psychopathology bifactor overlaps substantially-at both phenotypic and genetic levels-with the dispositional trait of negative emotionality. Data on psychopathology symptoms and dispositional traits were collected from both parents and youth in a representative sample of 1,569 twin pairs (ages 9-17 years) from Tennessee. Predictions based on the spectrum hypothesis were supported, with variance in negative emotionality and the general factor overlapping substantially at both phenotypic and etiologic levels. Furthermore, stronger correlations were found between negative emotionality and the general psychopathology factor than among other dispositions and other psychopathology factors. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
    No preview · Article · Nov 2013 · Journal of Abnormal Psychology

Publication Stats

20k Citations
1,125.69 Total Impact Points


  • 1995-2015
    • University of Chicago
      • Department of Health Studies
      Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • 1993-2004
    • University of Pittsburgh
      • • Department of Psychiatry
      • • Department of Medicine
      Pittsburgh, PA, United States
  • 1996-2002
    • University of Illinois at Chicago
      • Department of Psychiatry (Chicago)
      Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • 2001
    • Columbia University
      • College of Physicians and Surgeons
      New York, New York, United States
  • 1994
    • University of California, Irvine
      • Department of Pediatrics
      Irvine, CA, United States
  • 1991-1994
    • University of Miami
      • Department of Medicine
      كورال غيبلز، فلوريدا, Florida, United States
  • 1992
    • University Of Miami Hospital
      Miami, Florida, United States
  • 1991-1992
    • University of Alabama
      • Department of Psychology
      Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States
  • 1982-1991
    • Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic
      Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
  • 1977-1991
    • University of Georgia
      • Department of Psychology
      Атина, Georgia, United States
    • Middle Tennessee State University
      Murfreesboro, Tennessee, United States
  • 1987
    • University of Oregon
      Eugene, Oregon, United States
  • 1981
    • University of Washington Seattle
      • Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
      Seattle, Washington, United States
  • 1971
    • University of Tennessee
      Knoxville, Tennessee, United States