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Matthew Lerner, Ph.D.

University of Virginia (2013)
Assistant Professor, Clinical Psychology
For information on whether Dr. Lerner may be accepting PhD applicants,  please see this page:


Office: Psychology B-354

Phone: (631) 632-7660



Research Interests:

Elucidating novel models of and processes underlying social functioning in youth; Design and development of empirically-supported social competency interventions for youth with developmental disorders (e.g. Autism Spectrum Disorders & Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder); Therapeutic process variables (mediators and moderators of outcomes) in social competency intervention research; Developmental psychopathological and neuroplastic models of social competence deficits; Peer relations and their impact on developmental psychopathology.

Current Research:

The ability to connect with peers and develop friendships is among the most crucial and complex developments in youth. While this capacity develops easily for most children, some, such as those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), experience persistent social challenges. Surprisingly little is known about the perceptual, cognitive, and behavioral processes that may go awry in these populations as they pertain to social functioning. Elucidating these processes is important for revealing the subtle capacities necessary for typical, fluid social functioning, and necessary for development and refinement of interventions to improve such functioning. 

Dr. Lerner uses methods drawn from basic development, developmental psychopathology, social neuroscience, and controlled trials research to explore how basic, often novel processes impact social development. He also designs and implements interventions to learn whether these processes may be causally related to social functioning, with the aim of improving long-term outcomes for populations with social challenges. His work considers how youth see, think about, and act on their physical and social environment. He uses this focus on perception, cognition, and behavior to develop new models of how social functioning occurs and may be impacted through intervention. 

Dr. Lerner's lab capitalizes on research strategies including advanced quantitative methods (e.g., multilevel modeling), electrophysiology (i.e. event-related potentials [ERP]) and multi-method assessment (e.g., observational, diagnostic, and self-report). These strategies are employed via community-based procedures, clinic-based intervention designs (i.e. randomized controlled trial [RCT]), and lab-based controlled designs to conduct both descriptive and applied research to answer questions of typical and atypical social development. Please visit his website to learn more about his current studies. 

Representative Publications:

* = student author; ¥ = joint first-authorship 

Goldstein, T.R., Lerner, M.D. (in press). Dramatic pretend play games uniquely improve emotional control in young children. Developmental Science. DOI: 10.1111/desc.12603.

Gates, J.A.,* Kang, E.,* Lerner, M.D. (2017). Efficacy of group social skills interventions for youth with autism spectrum disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 52, 164- 181. DOI: 10.1016/j.cpr.2017.01.006. NIHMS 847192.

Lerner, M.D., De Los Reyes, A., Drabick, D.A.G., Gerber, A.H.,* Gadow, K.D. (in press). Informant discrepancy defines discrete, clinically-useful autism spectrum disorder subgroups. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.12730.

Keenan, E.G.,* Gotham, K., Lerner, M.D. (in press). Hooked on a feeling: repetitive cognition and internalizing symptomatology in relation to autism spectrum symptomatology. Autism. DOI: 10.1177/1362361317709.

Kim, H.,* Keifer, C.M.,* Rodriguez-Seijas, C.,* Eaton, N.R., Lerner, M.D., Gadow, K.D. (in press). Structural hierarchy of autism spectrum disorder symptoms: an integrative framework. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12698. NIHMS 845371.

Wainer, A., Drahota, A., Cohn, E., Kerns, C., Lerner, M. D., Marro, B.,* Moskowitz, L., Soorya, L. (2017). Understanding the landscape of psychosocial intervention practices for social, emotional, and behavioral challenges in youth with ASD: A study protocol.  Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 10, 178-197. DOI: 10.1080/19315864.2017.1284289.

Kang, E.,* Klein, E.F.,* Lillard, A.S. & Lerner, M.D. (2016). Predictors and moderators of spontaneous pretend play in children with and without autism spectrum disorder. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1577. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01577

Rosen, T.E.*, Lerner, M.D. (2016). Externalizing and internalizing symptoms moderate longitudinal patterns of facial emotion recognition in autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders, 46, 2621-2634. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-016-2800-y.

Mendelson, J.L.*, Gates, J.A.,* & Lerner, M.D. (2016). Friendship in school-age boys with autism spectrum disorders: a meta-analytic summary and developmental, process-based model. Psychological Bulletin, 142, 601 - 622. Doi: 10.1037/bul0000041.

Goldstein, T.R., Lerner, M.D., Winner, E. (in press). The arts as a venue for developmental science: realizing a latent opportunity. Child Development. DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12884.

De Los Reyes, A., Aldao, A., Qasmieh, N., Dunn, E.J., Lipton, M.F., Hartman, C., Dougherty, L.R., Youngstrom, E.A., Lerner, M.D. (in press). Graphical representations of adolescents' psychophysiological reactivity to social stressor tasks: reliability and validity of the chernoff face approach and person-centered profiles for clinical use. Psychological Assessment. DOI: 10.1037/pas0000354.

Spaulding, C.J.*, Lerner, M.D., Gadow, K.D. (2017). Trajectories and correlates of special education supports for youth with ASD and psychiatric comparisons. Autism, 21, 423-435. DOI: 10.1177/1362361316645428.

Meyer, A.* Lerner, M.D., De Los Reyes, A. Laird, R., Hajcak, G. (2017). Considering ERP difference scores as individual difference measures: issues with subtraction and alternative approaches. Psychophysiology, 54, 114 – 122. DOI: 10.1111/psyp.12664.

Garman, H.D.,* Spaulding, C.,* Webb, S.J., Mikami, A.Y., Morris, J.P., Lerner, M.D. (2016). Wanting it too much: an inverse relation between social motivation and facial emotion recognition in autism spectrum disorder. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 47, 890 - 902. DOI:10.1007/s10578-015-0620-5.

Fjermestad, K.W., Lerner, M.D., McLeod, B.D., Wergeland, G.H., Heiervang, E.R., Silverman, W.K., Öst, L.E., De Los Reyes, A., Havik, O.E., Haugland, B.S.M. (2016). Therapist-youth agreement on alliance change predicts outcome in CBT for youth anxiety disorders. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 57, 625–632. DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.12485.

Rankin, J.A.,* Weber, R.J.,* Kang, E.,* Lerner, M.D. (2016). Parent- and self-reported social skills importance in autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders, 46, 273-286.

Lerner, M.D., Potthoff, L.M.,* Hunter, S.J. (2015). Optimizing cross-sectional prediction of social functioning in youth referred for neuropsychological testing. PLoS One, 10(15), 1 - 16.

Tudor, M.E.*, Walsh, C.E., Mulder, E.C., & Lerner, M.D. (2015). Pain as a predictor of sleep problems in a sample of youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autism: The International Journal of Research & Practice, 19, 292 - 300.

Tudor, M.E.*,Lerner, M.D. (2015). Intervention and support for siblings of youth with developmental disabilities: a systematic review. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 18, 1 - 23.

White, S.W.¥, Lerner, M.D.¥, McLeod, B.D., Wood, J.J., Ginsburg, G., Kerns, C., Ollendick, T., Kendall, P.C., Piacentini, J., Walkup, J., Compton, S. (2015). Anxiety in children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorders: Examination of factorial equivalence. Behavior Therapy, 46, 40 – 53.

Webb, S.J., Bernier, R., Henderson, H.A., Johnson, M.H., Jones, E.J.H., Lerner, M.D., McPartland, J.C., Nelson, C.A., Rojas, D.C., Townsend, J., Westerfield, M. (2015). Guidelines and best practices for electrophysiological data collection, analysis and reporting in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45, 425-443.

De Los Reyes, A., Lerner, M.D., Goepel, K.A., Daruwala, S.E., Thomas, S.A. (2013). Discrepancies between parent and adolescent beliefs about daily life topics and performance on an emotion recognition task. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 41, 971-982.

Mikami, A.Y., Griggs, M.S., Lerner, M.D., Emeh, C.C., Reuland, M.M., Jack, A., Anthony, M.R. (2013). A randomized trial of a classroom intervention to increase peers’ social inclusion of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 81, 100 – 112.

McMahon, C.M., Lerner, M.D., Britton, N.* (2013). Group-based social skills interventions for adolescents with higher-functioning autism spectrum disorder: a review and looking to the future. Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics, 4, 23 - 38.

Lillard, A.S., Lerner, M.D., Hopkins, E.J., Dore, R.A., Smith, E.D., Palmquist, C.M. (2013). The impact of pretend play on children's development: a review of the evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 139, 1 – 34.

Lerner, M.D., Mikami, A.Y. (2013). Correct effect size estimates for strength of association statistics: comment on Odgaard and Fowler (2010). Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 81, 190 – 191.

Lerner, M.D., McPartland, J.C., Morris, J.P. (2013). Multimodal emotion processing in autism spectrum disorders: an event-related potential study. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience,3, 11 - 21.


  • International Society for      Autism Research Award: Best      Clinical Empirical Paper of 2013.


Lerner, M.D., McLeod, B.D., Mikami, A.Y. (2013). Preliminary evaluation of an observational measure of group cohesion for group psychotherapy. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69, 191 -  208.

Guli, L.A., Semrud-Clikeman, M., Lerner, M.D., Britton, N.* (2013). Social Competence Intervention Program (SCIP): a pilot study of a creative drama program for youth with social difficulties. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 40, 37 - 44.

Linkenauger, S., Lerner, M.D., Ramenzoni, V., Proffitt, D. (2012). A perceptual-motor deficit predicts social and communicative impairments in individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Autism Research, 5, 352 - 362.

Lerner, M.D., White, S.W., McPartland, J.C. (2012). Mechanisms of change in psychosocial interventions for autism spectrum disorders. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 14, 307 – 318.

Lerner, M.D., Mikami, A.Y. (2012). A preliminary randomized controlled trial of two social skills interventions for youth with high functioning autism spectrum disorders. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 27, 145-155.

Lerner, M.D., Haque, O.S., Northrup, E.C., Lawer, L., Bursztajn H.J. (2012) Emerging perspectives on adolescents and young adults with high functioning autism spectrum disorders, violence, and criminal law. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 40, 177 - 190. Corrigendum, 40, 445.

Lerner, M.D., Calhoun, C.D., Mikami, A.Y., De Los Reyes, A. (2012). Understanding parent-child social informant discrepancy in youth with high functioning autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42, 2680 - 2692.

Lerner, M.D., Mikami, A.Y., McLeod, B.D. (2011). The alliance in a friendship coaching intervention for parents of children with ADHD. Behavior Therapy, 42, 449 - 461.

Lerner, M.D., Hutchins, T., Prelock, P. (2011). Brief report: preliminary evaluation of the Theory of Mind Inventory (ToMI) and its relationship to measures of social skills. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 41(4), 512–517.

Lerner, M.D., Mikami, A.Y., Levine, K. (2011). Socio-Dramatic Affective-Relational Intervention for adolescents with Asperger syndrome & high-functioning autism: pilot study. Autism: The International Journal of Research & Practice,15, 21 – 42.


Book Chapters, Abstracts & other Published Work: 

Lerner, M.D., Mazefsky, C.A., White, S.W., McPartland, J.C. (in press). Autism spectrum disorder. In J. Butcher, J. Hooley, P.C. Kendall (Eds.), American Psychological Association Handbook of Psychopathology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Books.

Lerner, M.D., Rosen, T.E.,* Kang, E.,* Keifer, C.M.,* Gerber, A.* (in press). Autism spectrum disorder. In Ollendick, T.H., White, S.W., & White, B.A. (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Lerner, M.D., Girard, R.M. (in press). Appreciating and promoting social creativity in youth with Asperger’s Syndrome. In Kaufman, S.B. (Ed.), Supporting and Educating Twice-Exceptional Children. New York: Oxford University Press.

Hauser, M.J., Kohn, R., Lerner, M.D., Stein, M., Lory, B., Bursztajn, H.J. (in press). Intellectual disabilities, autism, and aging: medical-legal issues. In Holzer, J.C. (Ed). Geriatric Forensic Psychiatry. Oxford University Press.

Moskowitz, L. J., Rosen, T.,* Lerner, M. D., & Levine, K. (2017). Assessment of anxiety in youth with autism spectrum disorder. In C. Kerns, E. Storch, P. Kendall, J. J. Wood, & P. Renno (Eds.), Evidence Based Assessment and Treatment of Anxiety in Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (pp. 79 – 104). Elsevier.

Gabriel, J.,* Angevin, E.,* Rosen, T.,* Lerner, M.D. (2016). Use of theatrical techniques and elements as interventions for autism spectrum disorders. In Sofia, G. (Ed.), Theater and Cognitive Neuroscience (pp. 163 – 176). London, UK: Bloomsbury Academic.

Mendelson, J.L.,* & Lerner, M.D. (2014). Friendship among school aged boys with ASD, Autism Spectrum News, 7(2), 17, 27, 33. 

Riskind, R.G., Palmquist, C.M., Kondrad, R.L., Lerner, M.D. (September 2, 2014). Once in a lifetime: navigating the first year in your first tenure-track job. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Lerner, M.D., White, S.W. (2015). Moderators and mediators for youth with autism spectrum disorders. In M. Maric, P.J.M. Prins, & T.H. Ollendick (Eds), Moderators and Mediators of Youth Treatment Outcomes (pp. 146 – 173). New York: Oxford University Press.

White, S.W., Kreiser, N.L., Lerner, M.D. (2014). Autism spectrum disorders. In C.A. Alfano and D. Beidel (Eds.), Comprehensive Evidence-Based Interventions for School-Age Children and Adolescents (pp. 213 – 230). John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 

Lerner, M.D., McMahon, C.M., Britton, N.* (2014). Autism spectrum disorder in adolescents: promoting social and emotional development. In T.P. Gullotta & M. Bloom (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Primary Prevention and Health Promotion: Adolescence (Vol. 3, 2nd Ed.; pp. 1023 - 1033). New York: Springer.

Lerner, M.D., Morris, J.P., McPartland, J.C.  (2012). Processing of emotional faces and voices in Autism Spectrum Disorders: ERP Correlates and Interaction with Social Knowledge. Psychophysiology49 (Suppl. 1), S7.

Current Research Support:

2017 – 2018 The Spotlight Program at the Stony Brook Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders

(Autism Speaks Local Grant). Autism Speaks. PI.


2017 Improving Employment Outcomes for People with Autism. Autism Science

Foundation (Undergraduate Summer Research Award). Mentor (PI: C. Esposito).


2016 – 2021 Optimizing Prediction of Social Deficits in Autism Spectrum Disorders (1R01MH110585). 

National Institute of Mental Health. PI.


2016 – 2019 Electrophysiological Correlates of Social-Emotional Learning in ASD.

Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (NARSAD Young Investigator Award). PI. 


2016 – 2017 Surveying the Landscape: ‘Usual Care’ for Core Symptoms and Comorbid Psychopathology in ASD.

Pershing Charitable Trust. PI.


2016 – 2018 Improving Employment Outcomes for people with Autism

(INSAR Policy BriefAward).

International Society for Autism Research. Co-PI.


2016 – 2017  Community Engagement in Deafness and Autism Research (CEDAR).

University of Connecticut Public Discourse Project. Co-PI.  


2015 – 2017 Center of Excellence in the Care and Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder and  Other Complex Disabilities.

New York Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. Research Consultant.  


2015 – 2017    Theater in School to Promote Youth with ASD - Pilot Study.

Arts Connection. PI.


2015 – 2016    A Web-Based Tool to Assess Social Cognition in ASD (SFARI# 381283).

Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (Explorer Award). PI.


2016 Visiting Scholar. Center for Health Innovation, Adelphi University.


2015 – 2016    Electrophysiological Effects of Social Performance-based Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial. 

Stony Brook Department of Psychiatry Pilot Grants Program. PI.


2016  Validation of the Perseverative Thinking Questionnaire in Adults with ASD. Autism Science Foundation

(Undergraduate Summer Research Award). Mentor (PI: E. Keenan).


2015 – 2016    Effects of Emotion Identification.

Alan Alda Fund for Communication. PI.


2015 – 2016    Improving Effectiveness of Behavior Management Strategies at Maryhaven.

Maryhaven Center of Hope. PI.


2015 – 2016    Consortium on Autism & Sign Language.

Nancy Lurie Marks Family Foundation. PI.


2015 – 2016    Collaborative on Autism & Sign Language. American Academy of Arts & Sciences (Inaugural Exploratory Fund Award).

PI (Additional PIs: Aronoff, Nelson, Goldin-Meadow).


2014 – 2016    Imaging Depression in Adults with ASD (AR130397). 

Department of Defense (Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs – Autism Research Program). Co-I (PI: Gadow).


2013 – 2016    Cognitive Consequences of Emotion (1252079). 

National Science Foundation. Consultant (PI: Clore).




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