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Benjamin Yerys, PhD
Benjamin Yerys
Director, PASSAGE Program, Center for Autism Research

Research by Dr. Yerys focuses on the development of cognitive and neural mechanisms that support adaptive behavior in children with neurodevelopmental disorders.



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Research by Dr. Yerys focuses on brain and cognitive development of executive function, attention, and reward-based learning in children on the autism spectrum and other neurodevelopmental conditions. Dr. Yerys takes a lifespan approach in his research by working with preschoolers through young adults.

His research seeks to understand how executive function, attention, and reward-based learning develop differently in neurodevelopmental populations, how these skills intersect with psychiatric symptoms, one's daily living skills, and ultimately one’s quality of life. He is also applying this knowledge to new treatments.

Among his notable career accomplishments, Dr. Yerys demonstrated that:

  • Co-occurring ADHD symptoms in autistic people are associated with more executive function challenges, more difficulties with day-to-day activities, and a lower self-reported quality of life
  • The brain’s reward system contributes to both social and repetitive behavior features of autism
  • Executive function weaknesses, particularly limited cognitive and behavioral flexibility, plays a role in both social and repetitive behavior features of autistic people

Education and Training

AB, Washington University (Psychology), 1998

MA, University of Denver (Clinical Psychology), 2003

PhD, University of Denver (Clinical Psychology), 2006

Fellowship, Children's National Medical Center (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities), 2008

Titles and Academic Titles

Director, Data and Statistical Core, Center for Autism Research

Director, PASSAGE Program, Center for Autism Research

Director, Clinical Translational Core, Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Research Center, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia/University of Pennsylvania


Assistant Professor of Psychology

Professional Memberships

International Society for Autism Research, 2007-

Society for Neuroscience, 2007-

Cognitive Neuroscience Society, 2007-

Professional Awards

Travel Fellowship, Carnegie Symposium on Cognition, 2008

Publication Highlights

Yerys BE, Bertollo JR, Kenworthy L, Dawson G, Marco EJ, Schultz RT, Sikich L. Brief Report: Pilot Study of a Novel Interactive Digital Treatment to Improve Cognitive Control in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Co-occurring ADHD Symptoms. J Autism Dev Disord. 2018 Dec; PMID: 30569407
Clements CC, Zoltowski AR, Yankowitz LD, Yerys BE, Schultz RT, Herrington JD. Evaluation of the Social Motivation Hypothesis of Autism: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Psychiatry. 2018 Aug; 75(8):797-808. PMID: 29898209
Kohls G, Antezana L, Mosner MG, Schultz RT, Yerys BE. Altered reward system reactivity for personalized circumscribed interests in autism. Mol Autism. 2018 Jan; 9:9. PMID: 29423135
Lee PS, Yerys BE, Della Rosa A, Foss-Feig J, Barnes KA, James JD, VanMeter J, Vaidya CJ, Gaillard WD, Kenworthy LE. Functional connectivity of the inferior frontal cortex changes with age in children with autism spectrum disorders: a fcMRI study of response inhibition. Cereb Cortex. 2009 Aug; 19(8):1787-94. PMID: 19068486

Links of Interest