Marisela Gutierrez Stokes, M.S.
Education: Bachelor of Arts in psychology (May 2008)
Master of Science in clinical psychology from the University of Texas at Tyler
McNair Project: Putting Psychopathy Back into "Autistic Psychopathy:" The Integrated Emotion Systems Model Applied to Autism (2007)
Mentor: Rupert Klein, Ph.D.
The amygdala theory of autism identifies the brain structure of the amygdala as the primary source of emotional impairment and lack of empathy observed in autism. However, studies have found that the amygdala is not entirely impaired in autism, suggesting that other brain regions may be involved. The integrated emotion systems model (IES), which was designed for psychopathy, may elucidate a more comprehensive understanding of autistic behaviors. The current review describes contradicting evidence against the amygdala theory of autism while simultaneously providing evidence supporting the use of the IES model in explaining this disorder. Additionally, the review suggests the possibility of psychopathy being the highest-functioning form of autism and why it should be included on a spectrum with autism.