Psychology Assessment Center
The pediatric neuropsychology specialists at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Psychology Assessment Center provide neuropsychological assessments to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological, medical, genetic and developmental disorders.
Meet the Team
- Janet C. Sherman, PhD
- Dennis K. Norman, EDD
- Mark A. Blais, PsyD
- J. Mimi Castelo, PhD
- Sigurros Davidsdottir, PhD
- Catherine L. Leveroni, PhD
- Nancy A. Lundy, EDD
- Amy K. Morgan, PhD
- Lauren E. Pollak, PhD
- Margaret B. Pulsifer, PhD
- Karen J. Seligsohn, PhD
- S. Justin Sinclair, PhD
- Michelle Stein, PhD
- Gretchen Timmel, M.Ed
Why Are Children Referred for Neuropsychological Evaluation?
Neurological, medical, genetic and developmental disorders are caused by or result in difficulties with the brain and nervous system. Children who are affected can have trouble with things such as learning, memory, speaking, hearing and mood.
Children are referred by a physician, teacher, school psychologist or other professional because of one or more problems in areas such as:
- Difficulty in learning, attention, behavior, socialization or emotional control
- A disease or developmental problem that affects the brain in some way
- A brain injury from an accident, birth trauma or other physical stress
The specialists at the Psychology Assessment Center have experience working with children with a variety of these disorders including the following:
- Hematologic/Oncologic diagnoses (including brain tumors, leukemia)
- Movement disorders (including Multiple Sclerosis)
- Traumatic brain injury
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Anxiety disorders
- Mood disorders
- Oppositional defiant disorder/conduct disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Substance abuse
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Attention deficit disorder
- Language disorders
- Learning disabilities
- Intellectual impairment
- Prenatal substance exposure
- Developmental difficulties that may be associated with factors such as adoption, malnutrition, prematurity/ low birthweight, trauma
- Angelman’s Syndrome
- Chromosome anomaly
- Down syndrome
- Fragile X
- Maple syrup urine disease
- Tuberous sclerosis
- Turner’s syndrome
- William’s syndrome
Our pediatric neuropsychologists rely on a child-centered approach to analyze a child’s individual strengths and weaknesses and how these affect his/her functioning and learning on a day-to-day basis. An extensive evaluation is provided. Some abilities may be measured in more detail than others, depending on the child’s specific needs. Observing the child to understand his/her motivation, cooperation and behavior is also a very important part of the evaluation.
There are some similarities amongst children with certain disorders (for example, ADHD, dyslexia) and medical conditions (for example, brain tumor, epilepsy), but pediatric neuropsychologists are careful to determine each child’s unique characteristics and background in order to understand his/her profile and provide the most appropriate recommendations.
A comprehensive report is provided detailing how a child’s neuropsychological profile affects his/her functioning in all relevant domains (cognitive, academic, psychological, social, family). Detailed recommendations are provided to help make use of the testing in the child’s daily activities, including school.
Education is considered such an important aspect of the child’s functioning that the Psychology Assessment Center also provides the services of an Educational Specialist who can assist with recommendations tailored to the child’s specific school curriculum. Additional educational testing, direct consultation with your child’s school and the development of individual education services can be provided.
Most health insurances cover neuropsychological assessment when the child has an underlying medical disorder. However, this is typically not the case for evaluations of learning disabilities. In these cases, it is sometimes possible to request that the child’s school cover the cost of an independent (second, outside) evaluation. If you choose to pay for the evaluation yourself, you will be asked to sign a waiver agreeing to pay the cost of the evaluation.
Acoustic neurinoma, also referred to as acoustic neuroma or vestibular schwannoma, is a non-cancerous tumor that may develop from an overproduction of Schwann cells that press on the hearing and balance nerves in the inner ear.
Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of the blood in which too many lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, are produced by the bone marrow and by organs of the lymph system
Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is a cancer of the blood in which too many granulocytes, a type of white blood cell, are produced in the bone marrow.
An adjustment disorder is defined as an emotional or behavioral reaction to an identifiable stressful event or change in a person's life that is considered maladaptive or somehow not an expected, healthy response to the event or change.
Tumors of the adrenal glands can cause many problems by excess secretion of certain adrenal-produced hormones, most often resulting in high blood pressure, which can be extreme.
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease that occurs when nerve cells in the brain die, often resulting in symptoms such as impaired memory, thinking and behavior.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a terminal neurological disorder characterized by progressive degeneration of nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain.
An aneurysm is a bulging, weakened area in the wall of a blood vessel resulting in an abnormal widening or ballooning greater than 50 percent of the normal diameter
Aphasia is a language disorder caused by damage in a specific area of the brain that controls language expression and comprehension, and leaves a person unable to communicate effectively with others.
Ataxia causes a failure of muscle control in the arms and legs which may result in a lack of balance, coordination and possibly a disturbance in gait.
ADHD, also called attention-deficit disorder, is a behavior disorder, usually first diagnosed in childhood, that is characterized by inattention, impulsivity, and, in some cases, hyperactivity.
Autism spectrum disorder is a neurological and developmental disorder that usually appears during the first three years of life.
Behavior disorders include mental health problems with a focus on behaviors that both identify emotional problems and create interpersonal and social problems for children and adolescents in the course of their development.
A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue in the brain. The tumor can either originate in the brain itself, or come from another part of the body and travel to the brain (metastasize). Brain tumors may be classified as either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous), depending on their behavior.
Carotid artery disease, also called carotid artery stenosis, occurs when the carotid arteries, the main blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood to the brain, become narrowed.
A cerebral aneurysm (also called an intracranial aneurysm or brain aneurysm) is a bulging, weakened area in the wall of an artery in the brain, resulting in an abnormal widening or ballooning. Because there is a weakened spot in the artery wall, there is a risk for rupture (bursting) of the aneurysm.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating condition characterized by profound tiredness, regardless of bed rest.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a cancer of the blood in which too many lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, are produced by the bone marrow and by organs of the lymph system.
Chronic pain is long-standing pain that persists beyond the usual recovery period or occurs along with a chronic health condition, such as arthritis.
Conduct disorder is a behavior disorder, sometimes diagnosed in childhood, that is characterized by antisocial behaviors which violate the rights of others and age-appropriate social standards and rules.
Congenital heart defects occur when the heart or related blood vessels do not develop properly before or at birth.
Coronary heart disease occurs when cholesterol builds up within the walls of the heart’s arteries (coronary arteries), forming what is called plaque.
A depressive disorder is a whole-body illness, involving the body, mood, and thoughts, and affects the way a person eats and sleeps, feels about himself or herself, and thinks about things.
Dysthymia, also known as dysthymic disorder, is classified as a type of affective disorder (also called mood disorder) that often resembles a less severe, yet more chronic form of major (clinical) depression.
The term eating disorders refers to a variety of disorders. The common feature of all the eating disorders is abnormal eating behaviors. Eating disorders are serious mental health problems and can be life threatening.
Empty sella syndrome is a condition where the bony structure that houses the pituitary gland is enlarged, sometimes resulting in high fluid pressure inside the skull.
Encopresis is a problem that children four years old or older can develop due to chronic (long-term) constipation.
Epilepsy is a neurological condition involving the brain that makes people more susceptible to having seizures.
Fibromyalgia, also called fibrositis, is a chronic, widespread pain in muscles and soft tissues surrounding the joints throughout the body, accompanied by fatigue.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) causes its sufferers chronic and exaggerated worry and tension that seem to have no substantial cause.
Gout is characterized by inflamed, painful joints due to the formation of crystal deposits at the joints.
A head injury is a broad term that describes a vast array of injuries that occur to the scalp, skull, brain, and underlying tissue and blood vessels in the head.
A headache is pain or discomfort in the head or face area.
A heart attack occurs when one or more regions of the heart muscle experience a severe or prolonged lack of oxygen caused by blocked blood flow to the heart muscle.
Heart failure, also called congestive heart failure, is a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough oxygenated blood to meet the needs of the body's other organs.
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious and sometimes serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus.
Hepatitis B is a blood-borne microorganism transmitted by exposure to the hepatitis B virus through infectious body fluids.
Hepatitis C (once called non-A, non-B hepatitis) is a liver disease caused by a recently identified blood-borne virus.
Blood pressure, measured with a blood pressure cuff and stethoscope by a nurse or other health care provider, is the force of the blood pushing against the artery walls.
A hip fracture is a break in the femur (thigh bone) of the hip joint.
HIV/AIDS is a syndrome that kills cells of the immune system, impairing the body’s ability to fight infection.
Hyperthyroidism means overactivity of the thyroid gland, resulting in too much thyroid hormone in the bloodstream.
IgA nephropathy is a chronic kidney disease that may progress over a period of 10 to 20 years, and can lead to end-stage renal disease.
Landau-Kleffner syndrome (also called infantile acquired aphasia, acquired epileptic aphasia or aphasia with convulsive disorder) is a language disorder characterized by the gradual or sudden loss of the ability to use or comprehend spoken language.
Leukemia is cancer of the blood cells, usually the white blood cells. Leukemic cells look different than normal cells and do not function properly.
While most tick bites are harmless, several species can cause life-threatening diseases. Two of these well-known diseases are Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease.
Major depression, also known as clinical depression or unipolar depression, is classified as a type of affective disorder or mood disorder that goes beyond the day's ordinary ups and downs, becoming a serious medical condition and important health concern in this country.
Manic depression, also known as bipolar disorder, is classified as a type of affective disorder or mood disorder that goes beyond the day's ordinary ups and downs, becoming a serious medical condition and important health concern in this country.
Melanoma is a disease of the skin in which cancer cells are found in the melanocytes, the cells that produce color in the skin or pigment known as melanin.
Many children and adolescents have mental health problems that interfere with their normal development and daily life activities. Some are mild, while others are more severe.
Metabolic syndrome is a condition that includes the presence of a cluster of risk factors specific for cardiovascular disease. Metabolic syndrome significantly raises the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and/or stroke.
Non-Hodgkin disease is a type of lymphoma, which is a cancer in the lymphatic system.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder in which a person has an unreasonable thought, fear, or worry that he or she tries to manage through a ritualized activity to reduce the anxiety.
Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a behavior disorder, usually diagnosed in childhood, that is characterized by uncooperative, defiant, negativistic, irritable, and annoying behaviors toward parents, peers, teachers, and other authority figures.
An autoimmune disorder is any reaction or attack of a person's immune system against its own organs and tissues.
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death in men and women in the US. Pancreatic cancer occurs when malignant cells grow out of control.
Panic disorder is characterized by chronic, repeated, and unexpected panic attacks - bouts of overwhelming fear of being in danger when there is no specific cause for the fear
A parathyroid tumor is a growth inside a parathyroid gland. Parathyroid tumors may cause increased levels of parathyroid hormones secreted by the parathyroid glands, leading to hyperparathyroidism.
Parkinson's disease (PD or, simply, Parkinson's) is a slowly progressing, degenerative disease that is associated with symptoms such as tremor or trembling of the arms, jaw, legs and face, stiffness or rigidity of the limbs and trunk, bradykinesia (slowness of movement), postural instability or impaired balance and coordination.
Persons with a personality disorder display more rigid and maladaptive thinking and reacting behaviors that often disrupt their personal, professional, and social lives.
Although rare, most pituitary tumors are not cancerous (benign), comprising only 7 percent of brain tumors. However, most pituitary tumors will press against the optic nerves, causing vision problems.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating condition that often follows a terrifying physical or emotional event - causing the person who survived the event to have persistent, frightening thoughts and memories, or flashbacks, of the ordeal.
Sexually transmitted diseases are infectious diseases transmitted through sexual contact.
Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder characterized by defective hemoglobin (a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the tissues of the body).
Sleep apnea is a serious breathing disorder that causes brief interruptions of breathing during sleep.
Snoring is the sound that occurs during sleep when flow of air is obstructed in the area where the tongue and upper throat meet the soft palate and uvula.
Stroke, also called brain attack, occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted.
There are three different terms used to define substance-related disorders, including substance abuse, substance dependence, and chemical dependence.
Systemic lupus erythematosus, also known as SLE, or simply lupus, involves periodic episodes of inflammation of and damage to the joints, tendons, other connective tissues, and organs, including the heart, lungs, blood vessels, brain, kidneys and skin.
Thyroid tumors are either benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous) growths.
Type 1 diabetes may also be known by a variety of other names, including the following: insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), juvenile diabetes, brittle diabetes, and sugar diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder resulting from the body's inability to make enough, or to properly use, insulin.
The following related clinical trials and research studies are currently seeking participants at Massachusetts General Hospital. Search for clinical trials and studies in another area of interest.
The MGH Psychology Assessment Center (PAC), part of the Department of Psychiatry, celebrates 15 years this month.
A recent study published in Pediatrics found that kids and teens exposed to an aggressive rivalry with their siblings tend to report more depression, anxiety, and anger than other kids. MassGeneral for Children Psychologist Ellen Braaten, PhD, Director of the Learning and Emotional Assessment Program, explains the findings and shares tips to recognize and deal with the situation.
MGHfC Psychology Assessment CenterOne Bowdoin Square
Boston, MA 02114
Hours: 8:30am to 5:00pm
Public Transportation Access: yes
Disabled Access: yes
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