Allison Jack

Allison Jack
Assistant Research Professor of Pharmacology and Physiology, GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences
[email protected]

Allison’s interdisciplinary background includes training in child psychopathology, social cognitive neuroscience, and imaging genetics, with specialization in MR neuroimaging and assessment of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other neurodevelopmental conditions. Prior to entering an academic career, she worked in an autism classroom within a school that specialized in serving children with multiple severe disabilities. In this context, she was involved in the instruction and care of children with ASDs and co-occurring severe to profound intellectual disability, accompanied by externalizing behaviors and visual and hearing impairments. This experience motivated her to focus her research career on the etiology of ASDs, and in particular questions relating to the neural endophenotypes (that is, the brain structural & functional characteristics that serve as an intermediary step between genotype and observable phenotype) shaping individual differences in phenotypic presentation and social behavioral outcome.

Read more about their research here.

Current Research

Allison’s work focuses on understanding meaningful differences in social perception with the goal of better understanding how these factors contribute to processes of developmental risk and resilience, particularly as relates to autism spectrum disorders (ASD). She uses human neuroimaging methods, especially MRI, to investigate several novel sources of variability in social behavior, including 1) the function of the posterior lobe of the cerebellum and 2) sexually dimorphic processes in neurodevelopment, including epigenetic modifications of the oxytocin receptor gene. She has a particular interest in girls and women with ASD, who are understudied and under-represented relative to boys and men on the spectrum. She primary current project involves combining information from functional MRI and genetics to explore what makes girls on the spectrum unique. Additional projects include a collaborative imaging genetics proposal to study Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and a proposal focused on the role of the cerebellum in learning in ASD.


B.A. English, College of William and Mary, 2005
B.A. Psychology, College of William and Mary, 2005
M.A. Developmental Psychology, University of Virginia, 2009
Ph.D. Developmental Psychology, University of Virginia, 2012



Jack, Allison, Keifer, Cara M., and Pelphrey, Kevin A. (2017). Cerebellar contributions to biological motion perception in autism and typical development. Human Brain Mapping38(4), 1914-1932. doi: 10.1002/hbm.23493

Gordon, I., Jack, A., Pretzsch, C., Vander Wyk, B., Leckman, J., Feldman, R., and Pelphrey, K. A. (2016). Intranasal Oxytocin Enhances Connectivity in the Neural Circuitry Supporting Social Motivation and Social Perception in Children with Autism. Scientific Reports, 6. doi: 10.1038/srep35054