My research examines social competence in children and adolescence. Some children are well liked, make friends easily, and are good at reading and understanding social cues. Yet other children struggle to make friends, are rejected or bullied by peers, and engage in behaviors that are harmful to others. My research seeks to understand the cognitive and environmental factors that explain these differences in social functioning. Some of my research focuses specifically on children with Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), who often demonstrate significant social impairments.
Nitric oxide (NO) and serotonin are two signaling molecules that correlate to human aggression levels. Nitric oxide is a peptide hormone that is produced when the nitric oxide synthase (NOS) binds oxygen and arginine. The two NOS isoforms that create NO in this case are neuronal NOS (nNOS) and endothelial NOS (eNOS). Serotonin is a steroid hormone that is synthesized in the central nervous system (CNS) by the brain. Serotonin, or 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), is created when the amino acid, tryptophan, combines with the chemical reactor, tryptophan hydroxylase.