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UC Davis Children’s Hospital

David Hessl, Ph.D. View profile as PDF

David  Hessl

Clinical Interests

David Hessl's clinical interests involve cognitive, emotional, and behavioral evaluation of children, adolescents and adults with neurodevelopmental disorders, especially those with fragile X syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, ADHD and learning disabilities. He also has expertise in developmental psychopathology, particularly mood and anxiety disorders, in infants and young children. His research focuses on genetic, environmental and hormonal contributions to cognition and behavior in children with fragile X syndrome. He also conducts collaborative studies with other researchers, investigating brain imaging, molecular genetics and neuropsychology in an effort to understand links between genetics, brain function and behavior during early development.


Associate Professor


Clinical Psychology


Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences



Center/Program Affiliation:


UC Davis MIND Institute
2825 50th St.
Sacramento, CA 95817
Driving Directions
Phone: 916-703-0280

Additional Phone:

Physician Referrals: 800-4-UCDAVIS (800-482-3284)


Ph.D., University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, 1997
B.A., UCLA, Los Angeles, California, 1989


Lucile Packard Children's Hospital/Children's Health Council, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, 1996-1997


University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California, 1997-98

Professional Memberships:

American Psychological Association
Society for the Scientific Study of Behavioral Phenotypes

Select Honors and Awards:

Department of Psychology Dissertation Award, University of Washington, 1994

Honors in Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, California, 1988

Select Recent Publications:

Chonchaiya W, Au J, Schneider A, Hessl D, Harris SW, Laird M, Mu Y, Tassone F, Nguyen DV, Hagerman RJ. Increased prevalence of seizures in boys who were probands with the FMR1 premutation and co-morbid autism spectrum disorder. Hum Genet. 2012 Apr;131(4):581-9. Epub 2011 Oct 15.

Wang JY, Hessl DH, Hagerman RJ, Tassone F, Rivera SM. Age-dependent structural connectivity effects in fragile x premutation. Arch Neurol. 2012 Apr;69(4):482-9.

Schneider A, Ballinger E, Chavez A, Tassone F, Hagerman RJ, Hessl D. Prepulse inhibition in patients with fragile X-associated tremor ataxia syndrome. Neurobiol Aging. 2012 Jun;33(6):1045-53. Epub 2010 Oct 20.

Selmeczy D, Koldewyn K, Wang JM, Lee A, Harvey D, Hessl DR, Tassone F, Adams P, Hagerman RJ, Hagerman PJ, Rivera SM. Investigation of amygdala volume in men with the fragile X premutation. Brain Imaging Behav. 2011 Dec;5(4):285-94.

Yuhas J, Cordeiro L, Tassone F, Ballinger E, Schneider A, Long JM, Ornitz EM, Hessl D. Brief report: Sensorimotor gating in idiopathic autism and autism associated with fragile X syndrome. J Autism Dev Disord. 2011 Feb;41(2):248-53.

Sansone SM, Widaman KF, Hall SS, Reiss AL, Lightbody A, Kaufmann WE, Berry-Kravis E, Lachiewicz A, Brown EC, Hessl D. Psychometric Study of the Aberrant Behavior Checklist in Fragile X Syndrome and Implications for Targeted Treatment. J Autism Dev Disord. 2011 Oct 5. [Epub ahead of print]

Hessl D, Wang JM, Schneider A, Koldewyn K, Le L, Iwahashi C, Cheung K, Tassone F, Hagerman PJ, Rivera SM. Decreased fragile X mental retardation protein expression underlies amygdala dysfunction in carriers of the fragile X premutation. Biol Psychiatry. 2011 Nov 1;70(9):859-65. Epub 2011 Jul 23.

Cordeiro L, Ballinger E, Hagerman R, Hessl D. Clinical assessment of DSM-IV anxiety disorders in fragile X syndrome: prevalence and characterization. J Neurodev Disord. 2011 Mar;3(1):57-67. Epub 2010 Dec 3.

Farzin F, Scaggs F, Hervey C, Berry-Kravis E, Hessl D. Reliability of eye tracking and pupillometry measures in individuals with fragile X syndrome. J Autism Dev Disord. 2011 Nov;41(11):1515-22.

Chonchaiya W, Tassone F, Ashwood P, Hessl D, Schneider A, Campos L, Nguyen DV, Hagerman RJ. Autoimmune disease in mothers with the FMR1 premutation is associated with seizures in their children with fragile X syndrome. Hum Genet. 2010 Nov;128(5):539-48. Epub 2010 Sep 1.

Hagerman, R.J., Berry-Kravis, E., Ono, M.Y., Tartaglia, N., Lachiewicz, A., Kronk, R., Delahunty, C., Kaufmann, W., Hessl, D., Visootsak, J., Picker, J., Gane, L., & Tranfaglia, M. (2009). Advances in the treatment of fragile X syndrome. Pediatrics, 123(1),378-390.

Hessl, D., Cordeiro, L., Yuhas, R.. Campbell, A., Ornitz, E., Berry-Kravis, E., Chruscinski, E., Hervey, C., Long, J.M., & Hagerman, R.J. (2009). Prepulse inhibition in fragile X syndrome: Feasibility, reliability and implications for treatment. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics, 150B(4) 545-553.

Hessl, D., Nguyen, D.V., Green, C., Chavez, A., Tassone, F., Hagerman, R.J., Senturk, D., Schneider, A., Lightbody, A., Reiss, A.L. & Hall, S. (2009). A solution to limitations of cognitive testing in children with intellectual disabilities: The case of fragile X syndrome. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 1, 33-45.

Farzin, F., Rivera, S.M., & Hessl, D. (2009). Face processing in individuals with fragile X syndrome: An eye tracking study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39(6) 946-952.

Berry-Kravis, E., Hessl, D., Coffey, S., Hervey, C., Schneider, A., Yuhas, J., Hutchinson, J., Snape, M., Tranfaglia, M., Nguyen, D.V., & Hagerman, R.J. (2009). A pilot open-label singe-dose trial of Fenobam in adults with fragile X syndrome. Journal of Medical Genetics, 46(4) 266~271.

Bourgeois, J., Coffey, S., Rivera, S.M., Hess), D., Gane, L.W., Tassone, F., Greco, C., Finucane, B., Nelson, L., Berry-Kravis, E., Grigsby, J., Hagerman, P.J. & Hagerman, R.l (2009). The family of fragile X premutation disorders: Expanding the psychiatric perspective. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 70(6) 852-862.

Zingerevich, C., Greiss-Hess, L., Lemons-Chitwood, Harris, S., Hessl, D., & Hagerman, R.J. (2009). Motor abilities of children with fragile X syndrome. Journal of Intellectual Disabilities Research, 53(1), 11-18.

Solomon, M., Hessl, D., Chiu, S., Olsen, E., & Hendren, R. (2009). Towards a neurodevelopmental model of clinical case formulation. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 32(1) 199-211.

Hagerman, R.J., Berry-Kravis, E., Hessl, D., Coffey, S., Schneider, A., Nguyen, D.V., Hervey, C., Hutchinson, L, & Snape, M. (2008). Trial of fenobam, an mGluR5 antagonist, in adults with Fragile X Syndrome. Journal of Intellectual Disabilities Research, 52(10), 814.

Harris S.W., Hessl D., Bacalman S., Goodlin-Jones B., Ferranti R., Herman K., Tassone F., Barbato I., Hagerman P.J., Hagerman R.J. (2008) Autism profiles of males with fragile X syndrome. American Journal on Mental Retardation 113(6), 427-438.

To see if David Hessl is accepting new patients, or for assistance finding a UC Davis doctor, please call 800-2-UCDAVIS (800-282-3284).