Jeanne earned her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from UC San Diego/San Diego State University in 1992 and joined the Department of Neurosciences as a Postdoctoral Fellow in that year. She has a secondary appointment as Adjunct Professor in the UCSD Department of Cognitive Science and serves as faculty in the UCSD/SDSU Joint Doctoral Program in Communicative Disorders, the UCSD Stein Institute for Research on Aging, the UCSD/SDSU Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, and the UCSD Center for Human Development/Human Development Program. She also serves on the advisory board for a newly funded Innovative Research Hub (Roles of Emotion and Choice for Learning, REaCh for Learning, Research Hub).
Jeanne directs the Research on Autism and Development Laboratory. She is a Clinical Neuropsychologist and Cognitive Neuroscientist whose focus is on the identification of brain structural and functional correlates of cognitive function, particularly dynamic attentional processes, and developmental changes in these relationships.
Jeanne has studied Autism Spectrum Disorders for more than two decades with a primary interest in abnormalities of attentional function in autism and the influence of attention deficits on the development of the behavioral symptoms of autism such as disordered language and social communication.
Her studies employ a variety of methods and techniques, including neuropsychological and behavioral testing, neurophysiological recordings (EEG, ERP), eye-tracking and structural and functional MR imaging. She has studied selective and shifting attention and the underlying brain networks in both normal and abnormal function for more than two decades, and has received NIH funding to conduct large studies of attentional function in autism, in other developmental disorders and in healthy aging.
Jeanne's EEG studies of visual attention have highlighted abnormal attentional distribution in autism. Her EEG and fMRI studies of shifting attention between auditory and visual modalities have demonstrated difficulties manipulating attention in autism, a reduced ability to filter distracting information associated with normal aging, and individual differences in these skills in normal healthy young adults.
Current work by Jeanne and her colleagues examines motor function (including eye movement) in autism and the interaction of motor behavior and attention. Her work is increasingly focused on translation of research findings to treatment approaches. Problems with motor function are prominent in autism, and along with visual attention abnormalities are among the only clinical symptoms of autism that can be observed in the first six months of life.
While motor problems can clearly affect daily function, they may also affect social function and may contribute to difficulty acquiring social skills during early childhood. In addition, data showing the tightly-bound interaction of attention and motor function suggest that compromised motor function requires increased attention, leaving fewer resources available for processing environmental stimuli and learning. This knowledge suggests that the motor system—which is known to be readily trainable—may be a gateway to improving outcomes for individuals living with ASD.