Diana L Robins


Ph.D., University of Connecticut, 2002
Associate Professor
Chair, NBN Program 
Member, Clinical Psychology Program
Joint Appointment:  Neuroscience Institute
Office: 404-413-6293
760 Urban Life

Lab: 404-413-6472
Lab email:

**Dr. Robins will not be accepting new graduate students for the 2015-16 academic year. However, many other faculty in Psychology are seeking new doctoral students – please check websites of individual faculty members.**

 Although I have broad training as a clinical neuropsychologist, my research interests lie primarily in the field of autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

The primary research in my lab is focused on improving the early detection of ASD using the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT), Ongoing work is validating a revision to the M-CHAT (funded by NICHD), which we hope will be disseminated soon. More than 40 primary care sites in metro-Atlanta distribute the M-CHAT-R to families attending toddler well-child visits. Parents of children who demonstrate risk for ASD complete a follow-up interview, and families whose child continues to demonstrate risk are invited to attend a series of appointments, including a complete diagnostic evaluation. Please note that families only can enroll in the study through their child’s primary care provider; if you are a parent interested in having your child’s pediatrician participate, please contact the lab to request materials. If you are a pediatrician or other healthcare provider within 60 miles of downtown Atlanta, please contact the lab to learn how you can become involved in the M-CHAT study.

In addition to cross-validation of the M-CHAT, this large screening study is expanding autism screening to investigate: (a) multiple levels of screening; we are evaluating whether a brief observational measure helps separate true ASD cases from false positive cases; (b) comparison of autism-specific screening and broad developmental screening, using the Parents’ Evaluation of Development Status (Glascoe, 1999); and (c) in collaboration with Lauren B. Adamson, Ph.D. in the Developmental Psychology program, we are examining the emergence of joint attention and communication in toddlers with ASD and toddlers with other non-ASD developmental delays (funded by NICHD).

For more information on the M-CHAT, including instructions for use of the M-CHAT, downloads, scoring instructions, the follow-up interview, translations, and reprints, please visit my M-CHAT page.

The other ongoing research in my lab involves examining neurobiological mechanisms of social cognition that may be disrupted in ASD. In collaboration with Tricia King, Ph.D., we completed a multimethod study of emotion perception, which is now in the writing phase. New work is examining social perception, working memory, etc.

Recent Grants

“Early detection of pervasive developmental disorders,” National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, April 2009-March 2014; Deborah Fein, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

“The development of joint attention after infancy,” National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, April 2008-March 2013; Lauren B. Adamson, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

“Mechanisms of Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Autism,” Department of Defense, Autism Research Program, Synergistic Idea Award; April 2010-March 2013. Robin Morris, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

Recent Papers and Book Chapters

student co-authors are noted with an *

*Wiggins, L.D., Robins, D.L., & Yeargin-Allsopp, M. (in press). Note from the field: Improving Record-Review Surveillance of Young Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism: International Journal of Research and Practice.

*Wiggins, L.D., Robins, D.L., Adamson, L.B., Bakeman, R., & Henrich, C. (2012). Support for a dimensional view of autism spectrum disorders in toddlers. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42, 191-200.

*Khowaja, M. & Robins, D.L. (2012). Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (CHAT). In F. Volkmar (Editor-in-Chief), Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders. New York: Springer.

*Rozga, A., *Anderson, S., & Robins, D.L. (2011). Autism neuropsychological theory: A review. In D. Fein (Ed.), The Neuropsychology of Autism. (pp. 97-120). New York: Oxford University Press.

Robins, D.L. & Fein, D. (2011). The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers. In B. Caplan, J. Deluca, & J.S. Kreutzer (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology. New York: Springer.

*Wiggins, L. D., Robins, D. L., Bakeman, R., & Adamson, L. B. (2009). Brief Report: Sensory abnormalities as distinguishing symptoms of autism spectrum disorders in young children. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39 (7), 1087-1091.

*Schmertz, S. K., Anderson, P. L., Robins, D. L. (2009). The relation between self-report mindfulness and performance on tasks of sustained attention. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment. 31, 60-66.

Robins, D.L., Hunyadi, E., & Schultz, R.T. (2009). Superior temporal activation in response to dynamic audio-visual emotional cues. Brain and Cognition, 69, 269-278.

Allen, R., Robins, D.L., & Decker, S. (2008). Autism spectrum disorders: Neurobiology and current assessment practices. Psychology in the Schools, 45 (10), 905-917.

Robins, D. L. (2008). Screening for autism spectrum disorders in primary care settings. Autism, 12 (5), 537-556.

*Pandey, J., *Verbalis, A., Robins, D.L., Boorstein, H., Klin, A., Babitz, T., Chawarska, K., Volkmar, F., Green, J., Barton, M., & Fein, D. (2008). Screening for autism in older and younger toddlers. Autism, 12 (5), 513-535.

*Wiggins, L.D. & Robins, D.L. (2008). Excluding the ADI-R behavioral domain improves diagnostic agreement in toddlers. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38 (5), 972-976.

*Kleinman, J.M., Robins, D.L., *Ventola, P.E., *Pandey, J., *Boorstein, H.C., *Esser, E.L., *Wilson, L.B., *Rosenthal, M.A., *Sutera, S., *Verbalis, A.D., Marshia, G., Barton, M. Hodgson, S., Green, J., Dumont-Mathieu, T., Volkmar, F., Chawarska, K., Klin, A., & Fein, D. (2008). The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers: A follow-up study investigating the early detection of autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38 (5), 827-839.

Students Interested in Applying for a Research Practicum

My lab interviews for research practicum positions every semester. This is a competitive process, since many students are interested in research involving autism spectrum disorders. Please note that I ask for a minimum of a 2-semester commitment when you are accepted to the practicum. This practicum involves direct contact with families whose children have, or are at risk for, developmental disabilities including autism spectrum disorders. All practicum students are expected to demonstrate responsibility, initiative, and professional behavior at ALL TIMES. Please take the application and the interview process seriously.

Research Assistant Application Form

Please return your completed the application, along with your CV or resume, to or my 11th floor Urban Life mailbox. My research coordinator will contact you to set up an interview.