Invited Presentation: Jennifer Zarcone, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Analyzing Behavioral Phenotypes: Research in Prader-Willi Syndrome

A behavioral phenotype is the characteristic cognitive, personality, behavioral and psychiatric pattern that typifies a disorder. A number of genetic syndromes associated with developmental disabilities can be characterized as having a behavioral phenotype that may hold the key not only to early diagnosis but to more effective treatments at an earlier age. Individuals with the genetic disorder Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) have a fairly clear behavioral phenotype with associated behaviors that often require intervention: food seeking and stealing often leading to obesity, cognitive delays, behavior issues, and possibly increased likelihood for comorbid disorders. In this presentation, the genetic and behavioral characteristics of PWS will be described as well as some of the recent research leading to treatment for both excessive appetite and problem behavior.