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Research & Innovation | Overview

The importance of a comprehensive assessment

The first step in care through our Neuropsychology Program at Boston Children's is a comprehensive assessment, designed to give clinicians an extensive understanding of your child's:

  • primary medical or neurological problem
  • physical symptoms
  • day-to-day behavioral adjustments

Our neuropsychologists gather information while getting to know you and your child as individuals, so that we can deliver the most advanced, effective and compassionate care possible.

The assessment process at Boston Children's

  • Establish that your child either has, or does not have, damage, dysfunction or a developmental abnormality of the brain caused by such factors as:
    • a brain tumor
    • a seizure disorder, such as epilepsy
    • cerebrovascular disease or stroke
    • congenital or developmental disorders like spina bifida
    • exposure to agents—such as lead—that have been associated with neurological problems
    • a head injury
    • infections of the central nervous system, such as encephalitis or AIDS/HIV.
    • leukemia that has since been treated
    • metabolic encephalopathy, or dysfunction throughout the brain, associated with kidney disease  or liver disease
    • a period of lack of oxygen to the brain, also known as a hypoxic episode
    • premature birth
  • Determine the severity of the brain abnormality
  • Identify which areas of the child's neurological and behavioral function have been affected by the brain dysfunction, including:
    • academic skills
    • attention
    • auditory (hearing) and visual perception
    • communication, speech and language
    • executive control functions (including organization, reasoning, problem-solving and behavioral regulation)
    • response to outside stimulus
    • sensory abilities
    • social and emotional information-processing abilities
    • verbal and non-verbal memory
    • visual and spatial relations skills
  • Diagnose your child with one or a combination of neuropsychological disorders
  • Determine the biological or medical cause of the disorder
  • Track any changes in your child's functioning over time
  • Offer a prognosis for long-term response to treatment

Planning together

Our team of neuropsychologists collaborates with Boston Children's psychiatrists, social workers, neurologists, neurosurgeons and other health professionals to develop a treatment plan that:

  • takes into account the particular circumstances of your child’s condition
  • helps your child feel and function better while adapting new coping skills for a happy, fulfilling adult life
  • involves you and your family at every stage of care

Our research

Just as we are committed to exemplary patient care, our Neuropsychology Program clinicians at Boston Children's are also engaged in important scientific research with real implications for better identifying, understanding and treating neuropsychological disorders in children and young adults.

Learn more about our researchers (and their areas of focus):

Celiane M. Rey-Casserly, PhD, ABPP/ABCN
Director, Boston Children’s Neuropsychology Program

  • neuropsychological outcomes of premature/low birth weight babies
  • optimizing educational and vocational outcomes for cancer survivors
  • assessment of spatial learning in children and adolescents with neurofibromatosis

Jane Holmes Bernstein, PhD
Staff Neuropsychologist, Boston Children's

  • neuropsychological foundations of learning disorders
  • neuropsychological assessment of the developing child
  • use of the Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure in neuropsychological assessments

Christine Mrakotsky, PhD
Staff Neuropsychologist, Boston Children's

  • neuropsychological development in children with chronic immune illness
  • cognitive effects of corticosteroids and immune response in children with inflammatory bowel disease
  • brain imaging (fMRI, EEG) of memory in children with immune illness

Tanya Diver, PhD
Attending Neuropsychologist, Boston Children's

  • neurobehavioral outcomes in childhood brain tumors
  • social development in childhood brain tumors

Hoa Schneider, PhD
Attending Neuropsychologist, Boston Children's

  • craniofacial disorders, including nonsyndromic and syndromic craniosynostosis
  • learning disabilities
  • development of executive control and self-regulation capacity in children

Ferne Pinard, PhD
Attending Neuropsychologist, Boston Children's

  • pediatric multiple sclerosis and neuroinflammatory disorders
  • opsoclonus myoclonus
  • health policy and international settings

Sophie Foss, PhD
Attending Neuropsychologist, Boston Children's

  • fetal, infant, and toddler development
  • early childhood assessment
  • developmental origins of health and disease (DOHAD)