Mirella Dapretto
Mirella Dapretto, Ph.D.
• Professor - Department of Psy­chi­a­try and Biobe­hav­ioral Sciences
Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center
660 Charles E. Young Drive South
Los Angeles, CA 90095


Dr. Dapretto is currently Professor in the UCLA Dept. of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences. After receiving a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the UCLA Psychology Department, with a minor in Behavioral Neuroscience, Dr. Dapretto acquired expertise in neuroimaging methods – particularly functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) – as a postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center. Since joining the UCLA faculty in 1999, she has been the recipient of several awards, including NIH funding to study the neural networks suberving language functions in typically-developing children, and several grants to study the neural basis of the socio-communicative impairments observed in autism (funded by the Cure Autism Now foundation, the M.I.N.D. Research Institute at UC Davis, the National Alliance for Autism Research, and Autism Speaks). From 2007 to 2012, Dr. Dapretto served as the PI of the imaging project of the first UCLA Autism Center of Excellence (ACE) funded by NIH (Project 3). As part of the recently funded new UCLA ACE (2012-2017), Dr. Dapretto currently serves as the PI of the imaging project (Project 4), as well as Co-PI of a project in infants at ultra high-risk for autism (Project 1 ). In addition, Dr. Dapretto has also been a co-investigator on several large-scale collaborative studies headed by Drs. Susan Bookheimer, Dan Geschwind, Elizabeth Sowell, and Danny Wang, including a recently funded multi-site ACE Network (PI: Pelphrey; participating sites: Yale, UCLA, Harvard, University of Washington). In 2010-2012, Dr. Dapretto also served as the Director of the FPR-UCLA Center for Culture, Brain, and Development. Capitalizing on her dual training as a developmental psychologist and a neuroscientist, Dr. Dapretto’s research combines neuroimaging, behavioral, and genetic data to better characterize typical and atypical brain function. Her work is consistently published in prestigious journals such as Biological Psychiatry, Brain, Journal of Neuroscience, Nature Neuroscience, and Neuron.

Area(s) of Expertise

Using several neuroimaging techniques (functional MRI, and, more recently, structural MRI and event related potentials, ERP), Dr. Dapretto’s research seeks to (i) delineate how brain maturation and the development of language and social communication co-occur in the typically developing brain, (ii) qualify the patterns of brain dysfunction in developmental disorders such as autism and childhood onset schizophrenia, (iii) examine the neural basis of linguistic and communicative functions in the adult brain since data on adults provide a normative developmental endpoint for developmental studies and can also address issues of brain plasticity, (iv) examine the role that fMRI may play as both a marker of change and a predictor of outcome following behavioral or pharmacological interventions, and (v) identify early markers of autism in high-risk infant siblings of children with an autism diagnosis.


Convergent evidence of brain overconnectivity in children with autism?
Rudie JD; Dapretto M;

PMID: 24238089    DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2013.10.043   
Overreactive brain responses to sensory stimuli in youth with autism spectrum disorders.
Green SA; Rudie JD; Colich NL; Wood JJ; Shirinyan D; Hernandez L; Tottenham N; Dapretto M; Bookheimer SY;

PMID: 24157390    DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2013.08.004    PMCID: NIHMS520401 [Available on 11/01/14]
Neural responses to witnessing peer rejection after being socially excluded: fMRI as a window into adolescents' emotional processing.
Masten CL; Eisenberger NI; Pfeifer JH; Dapretto M;

PMID: 24033579    DOI: 10.1111/desc.12056    PMCID: NIHMS446797 [Available on 09/01/14]
Associations among pubertal development, empathic ability, and neural responses while witnessing peer rejection in adolescence.
Masten CL; Eisenberger NI; Pfeifer JH; Colich NL; Dapretto M;

PMID: 23379360    DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12056    PMCID: NIHMS423556 [Available on 07/01/14]
Neural processing of race during imitation: Self-Similarity Versus Social Status.
Losin EA; Cross KA; Iacoboni M; Dapretto M;

PMID: 23813738    DOI: 10.1002/hbm.22287   
The autism brain imaging data exchange: towards a large-scale evaluation of the intrinsic brain architecture in autism.
Di Martino A; Yan CG; Li Q; Denio E; Castellanos FX; Alaerts K; Anderson JS; Assaf M; Bookheimer SY; Dapretto M; Deen B; Delmonte S; Dinstein I; Ertl-Wagner B; Fair DA; Gallagher L; Kennedy DP; Keown CL; Keysers C; Lainhart JE; Lord C; Luna B; Menon V; Minshew NJ; Monk CS; Mueller S; Müller RA; Nebel MB; Nigg JT; O'Hearn K; Pelphrey KA; Peltier SJ; Rudie JD; Sunaert S; Thioux M; Tyszka JM; Uddin LQ; Verhoeven JS; Wenderoth N; Wiggins JL; Mostofsky SH; Milham MP;

PMID: 23774715    DOI: 10.1038/mp.2013.78   
Longitudinal change in the neural bases of adolescent social self-evaluations: effects of age and pubertal development.
Pfeifer JH; Kahn LE; Merchant JS; Peake SJ; Veroude K; Masten CL; Lieberman MD; Mazziotta JC; Dapretto M;

PMID: 23616547    DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4074-12.2013    PMCID: NIHMS471958
Neural and behavioral responses during self-evaluative processes differ in youth with and without autism.
Pfeifer JH; Merchant JS; Colich NL; Hernandez LM; Rudie JD; Dapretto M;

PMID: 22760337    DOI: 10.1007/s10803-012-1563-3    PMCID: NIHMS392580 [Available on 02/01/14]
Own-gender imitation activates the brain's reward circuitry.
Losin EA; Iacoboni M; Martin A; Dapretto M;

PMID: 22383803    DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsr055    PMCID: PMC3475355
Autism-associated promoter variant in MET impacts functional and structural brain networks.
Rudie JD; Hernandez LM; Brown JA; Beck-Pancer D; Colich NL; Gorrindo P; Thompson PM; Geschwind DH; Bookheimer SY; Levitt P; Dapretto M;

PMID: 22958829    DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2012.07.010    PMCID: NIHMS403140
Altered integration of speech and gesture in children with autism spectrum disorders.
Hubbard AL; McNealy K; Scott-Van Zeeland AA; Callan DE; Bookheimer SY; Dapretto M;

PMID: 23139906    DOI: 10.1002/brb3.81    PMCID: PMC3489813
Infants' pre-empathic behaviors are associated with language skills.
Hutman T; Rozga A; DeLaurentis A; Sigman M; Dapretto M;

PMID: 22728336    DOI: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2012.05.007    PMCID: NIHMS388649
Reduced functional integration and segregation of distributed neural systems underlying social and emotional information processing in autism spectrum disorders.
Rudie JD; Shehzad Z; Hernandez LM; Colich NL; Bookheimer SY; Iacoboni M; Dapretto M;

PMID: 21784971    DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhr171    PMCID: PMC3328339
Social status modulates neural activity in the mentalizing network.
Muscatell KA; Morelli SA; Falk EB; Way BM; Pfeifer JH; Galinsky AD; Lieberman MD; Dapretto M; Eisenberger NI;

PMID: 22289808    DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.01.080   
Race modulates neural activity during imitation.
Losin EA; Iacoboni M; Martin A; Cross KA; Dapretto M;

PMID: 22062193    DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.10.074   
Facing puberty: associations between pubertal development and neural responses to affective facial displays.
Moore WE; Pfeifer JH; Masten CL; Mazziotta JC; Iacoboni M; Dapretto M;

PMID: 22228752    DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsr066    PMCID: PMC3252633
Altered functional and structural brain network organization in autism.
Rudie JD; Brown JA; Beck-Pancer D; Hernandez LM; Dennis EL; Thompson PM; Bookheimer SY; Dapretto M;

PMID: 24179761    DOI: 10.1016/j.nicl.2012.11.006    PMCID: PMC3777708
Abnormal social reward processing in autism as indexed by pupillary responses to happy faces.
Sepeta L; Tsuchiya N; Davies MS; Sigman M; Bookheimer SY; Dapretto M;

PMID: 22958650    DOI: 10.1186/1866-1955-4-17    PMCID: PMC3461481
Age and experience shape developmental changes in the neural basis of language-related learning.
McNealy K; Mazziotta JC; Dapretto M;

PMID: 22010887    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2011.01075.x    PMCID: NIHMS488182
Neural bases of gaze and emotion processing in children with autism spectrum disorders.
Davies MS; Dapretto M; Sigman M; Sepeta L; Bookheimer SY;

PMID: 22398976    DOI: 10.1002/brb3.6    PMCID: PMC3217668
An fMRI investigation of responses to peer rejection in adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.
Masten CL; Colich NL; Rudie JD; Bookheimer SY; Eisenberger NI; Dapretto M;

PMID: 22318914    DOI: 10.1016/j.dcn.2011.01.004    PMCID: NIHMS334048
fMRI of syntactic processing in typically developing children: structural correlates in the inferior frontal gyrus.
Nuñez SC; Dapretto M; Katzir T; Starr A; Bramen J; Kan E; Bookheimer S; Sowell ER;

PMID: 21743820    DOI: 10.1016/j.dcn.2011.02.004    PMCID: NIHMS285674
Atypical neural networks for social orienting in autism spectrum disorders.
Greene DJ; Colich N; Iacoboni M; Zaidel E; Bookheimer SY; Dapretto M;

PMID: 21334443    DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.02.031    PMCID: NIHMS275793
Entering adolescence: resistance to peer influence, risky behavior, and neural changes in emotion reactivity.
Pfeifer JH; Masten CL; Moore WE; Oswald TM; Mazziotta JC; Iacoboni M; Dapretto M;

PMID: 21382560    DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.02.019    PMCID: NIHMS507042
Behavioral profiles of affected and unaffected siblings of children with autism: contribution of measures of mother-infant interaction and nonverbal communication.
Rozga A; Hutman T; Young GS; Rogers SJ; Ozonoff S; Dapretto M; Sigman M;

PMID: 20568002    DOI: 10.1007/s10803-010-1051-6    PMCID: PMC3044086
Subgenual anterior cingulate responses to peer rejection: a marker of adolescents' risk for depression.
Masten CL; Eisenberger NI; Borofsky LA; McNealy K; Pfeifer JH; Dapretto M;

PMID: 21262054    DOI: 10.1017/S0954579410000799    PMCID: NIHMS334045
Altered structural brain connectivity in healthy carriers of the autism risk gene, CNTNAP2.
Dennis EL; Jahanshad N; Rudie JD; Brown JA; Johnson K; McMahon KL; de Zubicaray GI; Montgomery G; Martin NG; Wright MJ; Bookheimer SY; Dapretto M; Toga AW; Thompson PM;

PMID: 22500773    DOI: 10.1089/brain.2011.0064    PMCID: NIHMS392946
Relationships between Cerebral Blood Flow and IQ in Typically Developing Children and Adolescents.
Kilroy E; Liu CY; Yan L; Kim YC; Dapretto M; Mendez MF; Wang DJ;

PMID: 23976891    DOI: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2010.09.011   
Altered functional connectivity in frontal lobe circuits is associated with variation in the autism risk gene CNTNAP2.
Scott-Van Zeeland AA; Abrahams BS; Alvarez-Retuerto AI; Sonnenblick LI; Rudie JD; Ghahremani D; Mumford JA; Poldrack RA; Dapretto M; Geschwind DH; Bookheimer SY;

PMID: 21048216    DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3001344    PMCID: NIHMS282442
No neural evidence of statistical learning during exposure to artificial languages in children with autism spectrum disorders.
Scott-Van Zeeland AA; McNealy K; Wang AT; Sigman M; Bookheimer SY; Dapretto M;

PMID: 20303070    DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2010.01.011    PMCID: NIHMS333591
Culture and neuroscience: additive or synergistic?
Losin EA; Dapretto M; Iacoboni M;

PMID: 20083533    DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsp058    PMCID: PMC2894662
Semantic Processing and Thought Disorder in Childhood-Onset Schizophrenia: Insights from fMRI.
Borofsky LA; McNealy K; Siddarth P; Wu KN; Dapretto M; Caplan R;

PMID: 22147958    DOI: 10.1016/j.jneuroling.2009.07.004   
Reward processing in autism.
Scott-Van Zeeland AA; Dapretto M; Ghahremani DG; Poldrack RA; Bookheimer SY;

PMID: 20437601    DOI: 10.1002/aur.122    PMCID: NIHMS282448
The neural basis of speech parsing in children and adults.
McNealy K; Mazziotta JC; Dapretto M;

PMID: 20136936    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2009.00895.x    PMCID: NIHMS141718
Language network dysfunction as a predictor of outcome in youth at clinical high risk for psychosis.
Sabb FW; van Erp TG; Hardt ME; Dapretto M; Caplan R; Cannon TD; Bearden CE;

PMID: 19861234    DOI: 10.1016/j.schres.2009.09.042    PMCID: NIHMS151850
Witnessing peer rejection during early adolescence: neural correlates of empathy for experiences of social exclusion.
Masten CL; Eisenberger NI; Pfeifer JH; Dapretto M;

PMID: 20602283    DOI: 10.1080/17470919.2010.490673    PMCID: NIHMS204416
Relationships between brain activation and brain structure in normally developing children.
Lu LH; Dapretto M; O'Hare ED; Kan E; McCourt ST; Thompson PM; Toga AW; Bookheimer SY; Sowell ER;

PMID: 19240138    DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhp011    PMCID: PMC2758677
Neural correlates of direct and reflected self-appraisals in adolescents and adults: when social perspective-taking informs self-perception.
Pfeifer JH; Masten CL; Borofsky LA; Dapretto M; Fuligni AJ; Lieberman MD;

PMID: 19630891    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01314.x    PMCID: NIHMS334041
Neural correlates of social exclusion during adolescence: understanding the distress of peer rejection.
Masten CL; Eisenberger NI; Borofsky LA; Pfeifer JH; McNealy K; Mazziotta JC; Dapretto M;

PMID: 19470528    DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsp007    PMCID: PMC2686232
Giving speech a hand: gesture modulates activity in auditory cortex during speech perception.
Hubbard AL; Wilson SM; Callan DE; Dapretto M;

PMID: 18412134    DOI: 10.1002/hbm.20565    PMCID: NIHMS69175
Culture in the mind's mirror: how anthropology and neuroscience can inform a model of the neural substrate for cultural imitative learning.
Losin EA; Dapretto M; Iacoboni M;

PMID: 19874969    DOI: 10.1016/S0079-6123(09)17812-3   
Frontal contributions to face processing differences in autism: evidence from fMRI of inverted face processing.
Bookheimer SY; Wang AT; Scott A; Sigman M; Dapretto M;

PMID: 18954473    DOI: 10.1017/S135561770808140X    PMCID: NIHMS275724
Mirroring others' emotions relates to empathy and interpersonal competence in children.
Pfeifer JH; Iacoboni M; Mazziotta JC; Dapretto M;

PMID: 18082427    DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.10.032    PMCID: NIHMS507038
Neural basis of self and other representation in autism: an FMRI study of self-face recognition.
Uddin LQ; Davies MS; Scott AA; Zaidel E; Bookheimer SY; Iacoboni M; Dapretto M;

PMID: 18958161    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003526    PMCID: PMC2568959
"I know you are but what am I?!": neural bases of self- and social knowledge retrieval in children and adults.
Pfeifer JH; Lieberman MD; Dapretto M;

PMID: 17651006    DOI: 10.1162/jocn.2007.19.8.1323    PMCID: NIHMS383071
Reading affect in the face and voice: neural correlates of interpreting communicative intent in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.
Wang AT; Lee SS; Sigman M; Dapretto M;

PMID: 17548751    DOI: 10.1001/archpsyc.64.6.698    PMCID: NIHMS474782
The mirror neuron system and the consequences of its dysfunction.
Iacoboni M; Dapretto M;

PMID: 17115076    DOI: 10.1038/nrn2024   
Developmental changes in the neural basis of interpreting communicative intent.
Wang AT; Lee SS; Sigman M; Dapretto M;

PMID: 18985123    DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsl018   
Cracking the language code: neural mechanisms underlying speech parsing.
McNealy K; Mazziotta JC; Dapretto M;

PMID: 16855090    DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5501-05.2006    PMCID: NIHMS476369
Neural basis of irony comprehension in children with autism: the role of prosody and context.
Wang AT; Lee SS; Sigman M; Dapretto M;

PMID: 16481375    DOI: 10.1093/brain/awl032    PMCID: NIHMS474781
Metaphorical vs. literal word meanings: fMRI evidence against a selective role of the right hemisphere.
Lee SS; Dapretto M;

PMID: 16165371    DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.08.003   
Understanding emotions in others: mirror neuron dysfunction in children with autism spectrum disorders.
Dapretto M; Davies MS; Pfeifer JH; Scott AA; Sigman M; Bookheimer SY; Iacoboni M;

PMID: 16327784    DOI: 10.1038/nn1611    PMCID: NIHMS474787
A functional magnetic resonance imaging study of discourse coherence in typically developing children.
Dapretto M; Lee SS; Caplan R;

PMID: 16189473    DOI: 10.1038/nn1611   
The neural correlates of grammatical gender decisions in Spanish.
Hernandez AE; Kotz SA; Hofmann J; Valentin VV; Dapretto M; Bookheimer SY;

PMID: 15073532    DOI: 10.1038/nn1611   
Neural correlates of facial affect processing in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder.
Wang AT; Dapretto M; Hariri AR; Sigman M; Bookheimer SY;

PMID: 15187809    DOI: 10.1097/00004583-200404000-00015   
Making sense during conversation: an fMRI study.
Caplan R; Dapretto M;

PMID: 11733724    DOI: 10.1097/00004583-200404000-00015   
Language switching and language representation in Spanish-English bilinguals: an fMRI study.
Hernandez AE; Dapretto M; Mazziotta J; Bookheimer S;

PMID: 11467923    DOI: 10.1006/nimg.2001.0810   
The development of word retrieval abilities in the second year and its relation to early vocabulary growth.
Dapretto M; Bjork EL;

PMID: 10953930    DOI: 10.1006/nimg.2001.0810   
Functional MRI in children with epilepsy.
Bookheimer SY; Dapretto M; Karmarkar U;

PMID: 10575242    DOI: 17398   
Form and content: dissociating syntax and semantics in sentence comprehension.
Dapretto M; Bookheimer SY;

PMID: 10571235    DOI: 17398   
Creation and use of a Talairach-compatible atlas for accurate, automated, nonlinear intersubject registration, and analysis of functional imaging data.
Woods RP; Dapretto M; Sicotte NL; Toga AW; Mazziotta JC;

PMID: 10524595    DOI: 10.1080/713754339