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Lauren Schmitt, PhD

  • Clinical Psychology Researcher, Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology
  • Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics



In my early years of college, I began working one-on-one with individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and I knew my future career had to involve this population. I was always fascinated by medicine and psychology, so pursuing a career in clinical psychology gave me the perfect mix of hands-on care and academic research.

The fact that so little was — and continues to be — known about the underlying pathophysiology of ASD intrigues and excites me. I have always appreciated working with both individuals and within the context of their families and environment. It’s just as important to build relationships with individuals with ASD as it is to build relationships with their family members.

Currently, I specialize in diagnostic and behavioral intervention services for people with neurodevelopmental disabilities (NDD), especially ASD. Since joining Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, I have provided care primarily within child- and parent-group settings through our intensive outpatient program, Regulating Together. This program was created by Dr. Rebecca Shaffer and focuses on building emotional regulation skills within the NDD population.

My clinical approach in Regulating Together involves teaching caregivers the same intervention strategies as their children. This helps them be better coaches at home. My primary area of research — cognitive flexibility — grew out of the desperate pleas from parents to help reduce their child’s intense behavioral rigidity, which, for many, dictated most of their days.

As a clinical psychology researcher, I use neuroscientific methods to better quantify and understand the underlying pathophysiological processes associated with higher-level skills. Examples include cognitive flexibility, response inhibition and speech production.

Since joining Cincinnati Children’s, I’ve worked with Dr. Craig Erickson and his Fragile X Syndrome (FXS) team to produce an independent line of research. We use electroencephalogram (EEG) to better understand the neural basis of FXS deficits to help speed treatment discovery. I have worked toward establishing an independent line of research implementing cognitive paradigms in individuals with FXS in ongoing biomarker development and drug studies.

Thanks to my collaborative efforts with Dr. Erickson and other physicians within the group, I’ve been involved with numerous clinical drug trials to help differentiate responders from non- responders using EEG and clinical data. This is especially important in FXS, where numerous drug trials have failed despite anecdotal evidence of success in a subset of patients and rescue mouse models of the disorder.

I have also worked with several external collaborators who focus primarily on rodents to develop analogous behavioral paradigms to better advance our knowledge and treatment of NDD. My research efforts have focused on establishing clinical biomarkers of sensorimotor and cognitive deficits in ASD and FXS. I’ve also used neurophysiological techniques to study sensory and cognitive functioning in individuals with FXS.

On a personal note, since moving to Cincinnati in 2017, I have become addicted to spinning classes at Cyclebar. The dark room, loud music and energy is the perfect release after a day of work. It has also given me an empowering and energized community of people outside work and home.

I moved around often when I was younger, so while I struggle to answer, “Where are you from?”, I enjoy sharing all the states I’ve lived in. My father worked for toy companies, and I got to test new toys as a child. Maybe that’s why I enjoy research so much!

Research Areas

Clinical Psychology

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Altered frontal connectivity as a mechanism for executive function deficits in fragile X syndrome. Schmitt, LM; Li, J; Liu, R; Horn, PS; Sweeney, JA; Erickson, CA; Pedapati, EV. Molecular Autism. 2022; 13.

Hemispheric Utilization of Alpha Oscillatory Dynamics as a Unique Biomarker of Neural Compensation in Females with Fragile X Syndrome. Norris, JE; Destefano, LA; Schmitt, LM; Pedapati, EV; Erickson, CA; Sweeney, JA; Ethridge, LE. ACS Chemical Neuroscience. 2022; 13:3389-3402.

Optimization, validation and initial clinical implications of a Luminex-based immunoassay for the quantification of Fragile X Protein from dried blood spots. Boggs, AE; Schmitt, LM; McLane, RD; Adayev, T; LaFauci, G; Horn, PS; Dominick, KC; Gross, C; Erickson, CA. Scientific Reports. 2022; 12.

Neocortical localization and thalamocortical modulation of neuronal hyperexcitability contribute to Fragile X Syndrome. Pedapati, EV; Schmitt, LM; Ethridge, LE; Miyakoshi, M; Sweeney, JA; Liu, R; Smith, E; Shaffer, RC; Dominick, KC; Gilbert, DL; et al. Communications Biology. 2022; 5.

Baclofen-associated neurophysiologic target engagement across species in fragile X syndrome. Jonak, CR; Pedapati, EV; Schmitt, LM; Assad, SA; Sandhu, MS; DeStefano, L; Ethridge, L; Razak, KA; Sweeney, JA; Binder, DK; et al. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders. 2022; 14.

THALAMOCORTICAL DYSRHYTHMIA AS A UNIFYING MODEL OF NEUROPSYCHIATRIC AND NEUROSENSORY DYSFUNCTION IN FRAGILE X SYNDROME. Pedapati, E; Ethridge, L; Sweeney, J; Miyakoshi, M; Schmitt, L; Liu, R; Wu, S; Gilbert, D; Horn, P; Erickson, CA. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2022; 61:s275-s276.

3.28 Diverse Experiences During Regulating Together Emotion Dysregulation Treatment. Jones, MZ; Kang, S; Blank, E; Coffman, M; Reisinger, DL; Schmitt, L; Randall, SC; Shaffer, RC; Lamy, M. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2022; 61:s236-s237.

Brief Report: Feasibility of the Probabilistic Reversal Learning Task as an Outcome Measure in an Intervention Trial for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Schmitt, LM; Sweeney, JA; Erickson, CA; Shaffer, R. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 2022; 52:4191-4199.

Systematic Review: Emotion Dysregulation in Syndromic Causes of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Shaffer, RC; Reisinger, DL; Schmitt, LM; Lamy, M; Dominick, KC; Smith, EG; Coffman, MC; Esbensen, AJ. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2022.

Regulating Together: Emotion Dysregulation Group Treatment for ASD Youth and Their Caregivers. Shaffer, RC; Schmitt, LM; Reisinger, DL; Coffman, M; Horn, P; Goodwin, MS; Mazefsky, C; Randall, S; Erickson, C. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 2022.

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