Jim Bodfish, Ph.D.

Professor of Hearing & Speech Sciences and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences


Contact Info

(615) 322-8780


Room 10217, Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center

Overview of Interests

Dr. Bodfish's research focuses on the pathogenesis and treatment of autism. In particular, he focuses on severe and treatment-resistant forms of autism or what can be termed “autism plus.” Clinically, this includes complex presentations of autism such as behavior & mood problems, nonverbal / minimally verbal, cognitive deficits, sensory & motor disorders, and genetic conditions. The central questions in his research are: what are the objectively measureable characteristics of children with autism who demonstrate poor developmental outcomes, and what are the neuro-behavioral processes that underlie these adverse developmental trajectories? Bodfish is also a clinician and strives to maintain a close linkage of his research with autism clinical service-delivery programs. The Bodfish lab consists of an equal partnership of clinicians, and basic and applied researchers. They use a variety of behavioral neuroscience approaches and methods including: measurement of behavioral phenotypes and dense observational measurement of behavioral patterns (naturalistic objective behavioral observation & coding, micro-behavioral analysis, eye-tracking); measurement of sensory, motor, and affective function (sensory psychophysics, kinematics, pupilometry, facial action coding); measurement of peripheral (autonomic) and central (electrophsyiology, functional neuroimaging) nervous system function. Their translational work includes development of outcome measures, development of behavioral / psychosocial treatment procedures, and behavioral assays for drug discovery in preclinical (mouse) models. The short-term goal of their multi-method approach is to identify valid and reliable markers of the processes that may lead to the development of atypical behaviors that can adversely impact brain and behavioral development. The long-term goal of their research is to leverage models of pathogenesis to develop novel intervention approaches for autism.


  • Behavioral Inflexibility in IDD Outcome Measurement