Psychology Assessment Center (PAC)

The Psychology Assessment Center provides neuropsychological and psychological assessment for individuals across the life span, from infancy through geriatrics.
Additional assessment and evaluation - Psychological Evaluation and Research Laboratory Multicultural Neuropsychology Program

Contact us for further information or to check on the status of your referral: 617-726-3647

Overview

Our Approach

Our evaluations provide in-depth information regarding cognitive, behavioral and social-emotional functioning in order to establish diagnosis and inform treatment planning.

The Psychology Assessment Center receives referrals from a wide range of medical specialties, including neurology, psychiatry, primary care, pediatrics, and oncology. An individual may be referred by their doctor for neuropsychological testing if they are experiencing problems in thinking, such as memory difficulties or trouble concentrating. Results of the evaluation can help clarify what your strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to thinking and processing information. This may help your doctor understand your diagnosis more clearly or may help with treatment.

The Center also provides educational liaison services for children, including school based referrals for evaluations and school consultations.

Professional Training

The Psychology Assessment Center offers a number of opportunities for professional training:

 

Our Specialties

The Psychology Assessment Center (PAC) provides assessments for a wide variety of disorders. The list below is a sample of the types of disorders for which the Psychology Assessment Center accepts referrals.

Neurological/Medical disorders:

  • Dementia
    • Alzheimer’s disease
    • Frontotemporal dementia
    • Primary progressive aphasia
  • Mild cognitive impairment vs. Normal aging
  • Stroke*
    • Cognitive and language sequelae (e.g., aphasia)
  • Epilepsy*
  • Hematologic/Oncologic diagnoses*
    • Brain tumor
    • Leukemia
  • Movement disorders
    • Parkinson’s disease
    • Dystonia*
    • Multiple Sclerosis*
  • Traumatic brain injury*
  • Tourette’s syndrome*
  • Leukodystrophies*

Psychiatric disorders:

  • Mood disorders*
  • Anxiety disorders*
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder*
  • Substance use disorders
  • Oppositional defiant disorder/Conduct disorder

Developmental disorders:

  • Autism spectrum disorder*
  • Attention deficit disorder*
  • Learning disabilities*
  • Language disorders*
  • Intellectual impairment*
  • Prenatal substance exposure

Genetic disorders:

  • Tuberous sclerosis*
  • Down syndrome*
  • Angelman’s syndrome

 

* Pediatric and adult patients

 

Referrals

Medical specialists or primary care physicians make referrals for neuropsychological and/or psychological testing (evaluation). We do NOT accept ‘self-referrals’. All patients are referred back to their specialists for treatment.

Patients who want to utilize their health insurance to cover the cost of the evaluation, should call their insurance company to ask if neuropsychological testing (Current Procedural Terminology code 96118 and CPT 96119) and/or psychological testing (CPT code 96101) is a covered benefit under their specific health plan. Some insurance plans will require the testing psychologist, together with the referring specialist, to submit clinical information for review before authorizing the evaluation(s). Other insurance plans may not require authorization, but could deny coverage if the completed evaluation does not support the medical necessity requirement per your health insurance’s guidelines.

Patients referred for the purpose of diagnosing learning disabilities should be aware most insurance companies will not cover intellectual, academic, cognitive or neuropsychological testing. For school age children, local Special Education Departments may cover the cost of an independent educational evaluation if your family qualifies. A letter must be submitted by the parent or guardian indicating the school system’s approval to cover the cost before the appointment process can proceed.

Questions concerning the above may be directed to our intake coordinator at 617-724-0313.

 

Our Staff

Clinical Staff

Janet C. Sherman, PhD
Clinical Director, Chief of Neuropsychology
Neuropsychology Fellowship Director
Assistant Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School
Interests: Neuropsychological assessment, language acquisition, aphasia, dementia (Alzheimer's disease, Mild Cognitive Impairment, Frontotemproal Dementia, Primary Progressive Aphasia), cerebellar disorders

Mark A. Blais, PsyD
Adult Internship Track Coordinator
Associate Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School
Interests: Adult psychological assessment consultations, comprehensive psychological and neuropsychological evaluations of adults with psychiatric disorders; assessment of normal and abnormal personality and its impact on life success

Molly Colvin, PhD, ABPP
Instructor in Psychology, Harvard Medical School
Interests: Neuropsychological assessment of children and adolescents with medical diagnoses and developmental conditions, including autism-spectrum disorders, movement disorders, epilepsy, head injury, stroke, ADHD, and learning disabilities; neuropsychological assessment of adults with neuropsychiatric conditions and focal neurological conditions, including degenerative diseases

Sigurros Davidsdottir, PhD
Instructor in Psychology, Harvard Medical School
Interests: Neuropsychological assessment of adults and older adults, neurodegenerative conditions including memory and movement disorders

Britt Carlson Emerton, PhD
Instructor in Psychology, Harvard Medical School
Interests: Neuropsychological assessment of children, adolescents and adults, epilepsy and other neurological diagnoses including neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative conditions

Julie A. Grieco, PsyD
Instructor in Psychology, Harvard Medical School
Interests: Neuropsychological assessment, psychological/behavioral consultation, pediatric and adult populations, genetic disorders (Down syndrome), neurodevelopmental disorders (autism spectrum, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, learning disorders), medical populations (oncology, epilepsy, head injury), and psychological disorders (mood disorders, anxiety, post traumatic stress)

Catherine Leveroni, PhD, ABPP
Neuropsychology Internship Track Coordinator
Assistant Professor in Psychology, Harvard Medical School
Interests: Neuropsychological assessment of adults, epilepsy, memory, functional neuroimaging

Amy Morgan, PhD, ABPP
Instructor in Psychology, Harvard Medical School
Interests: Neuropsychological assessment of pediatric patients with medical conditions including epilepsy, stroke, leukodystrophies and head injury and with neurodevelopmental disorders and learning disabilities.

Lauren E. Pollak, PhD, ABPP
Assistant Professor in Psychology, Harvard Medical School
Interests: Neuropsychological assessment of adults, executive functions, movement disorders, dementias

Margaret Pulsifer, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School
Interests: Pediatric neuropsychological assessment of patients with medical diagnoses, including brain tumor, leukemia, tuberous sclerosis complex, and Down syndrome, or with general developmental disorders, such as learning disabilities and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Yakeel T. Quiroz, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School
Director, Multicultural Neuropsychology Internship Elective
Co-Director, Multicultural Neuropsychology Program (MUNDOS)
Interests: Neuropsychological assessment of monolingual and bilingual Spanish speaking patients, memory disorders, early-onset dementias, Alzheimer's disease, multimodal neuroimaging

Kay Seligsohn, PhD 
Instructor in Psychology, Harvard Medical School
Interests: Pediatric neuropsychological and psychological assessments with developmental disabilities, including autistic spectrum disorders, adopted and foster children, and complex emotional and learning profiles

Michelle Stein, PhD
Instructor in Psychology, Harvard Medical School
Interests: Psychological and neuropsychological assessment of adults with psychiatric disorders. Assessment of interpersonal functioning & relationships

Gretchen Timmel, MEd
Educational Liaison
Massachusetts Licensed School Psychologist and certified teacher
Interests: Educational consulting advocacy, school observations and team meetings, individual educational planning (IEP) review and consultation, accommodation testing, study skills, curriculum planning, parent consultations

Postdoctoral Fellows


Neuropsychology (Brigham and Women's Hospital & Massachusetts General Hospital)

Hayley Duncanson, PhD
Alicia Janos, PhD
Christina Kay, PhD
Deepti Putcha, PhD

Multicultural Neuropsychology

Edmarie Guzman-Velez, PhD

Neuropsychology

Lea Travers, PhD

 

Predoctoral Psychology Interns


Predoctoral Psychology Interns

Anne Burke, MA
Seth Pitman, MA

Multicultural Neuropsychology

Jacqueline Helcer, MS, MA

Neuropsychology

Robyn Migliorini, MS
Katherine Reiter, MS

 

Support Staff


Operations Manager:
Roxie Billings - 617-726-2977

Practice Manager:
Vanessa Jillson - 617-724-0313

Psychometricians:
Sarah M. Mancuso - 617-643-4505

Tahani Chaudhry - 617-724-2226

Savannah Erwin - 617-726-8023

Kathryn Solomon - 617-726-2624

Patient Services Coordinators III:
Rhina Sariles - 617-643-3997

Diana Munera - 617-643-7257

Pediatric Evaluations

Student

Pediatric neuropsychological evaluations rely on a child-centered approach that analyzes your child’s individual strengths and weaknesses and how they affect his or her functioning on a daily basis.

What is Pediatric Neuropsychology?

Pediatric neuropsychological evaluations provide an integrated understanding of your child’s cognitive, academic, emotional and behavioral functioning and how these relate to your child’s brain structures and systems. During an evaluation, some abilities may be measured in more detail than others, depending on your child’s specific needs. Observing your child to understand his/her motivation, cooperation and behavior is also a very important part of the evaluation.

There are some similarities among children with certain disorders (for example, ADHD or dyslexia) and medical conditions (for example, brain tumor or epilepsy), but each child is different, so pediatric neuropsychologists are careful to determine your child’s unique characteristics and background in order to understand his or her profile and provide the most appropriate recommendations.

A the evaluation, you will receive a comprehensive report detailing how your child’s neuropsychological profile affects his/her functioning in all relevant domains (cognitive, academic, psychological, social, family). Detailed recommendations are provided to help you make use of the testing in your child’s daily activities and education.

Pediatric specialists at the PAC often work closely with your child’s physician when a specific medical condition and/or developmental disorder is an important factor in your child’s general neuropsychological functioning.

Pediatric Evaluation Procedures

A typical neuropsychological evaluation of a school-age child may assess the following areas:

  • General intellect
  • Achievement skills, such as reading and math
  • Executive skills, such as organization, planning, inhibition, and flexibility
  • Attention
  • Learning and memory
  • Language
  • Visual–spatial skills
  • Motor coordination
  • Behavioral and emotional functioning
  • Social skills

Different childhood disorders result in specific patterns of strengths and weaknesses. These profiles of abilities can help identify a child’s disorder and the brain areas that are involved. The neuropsychologist may work with your physician to combine results from medical tests, such as brain imaging or blood tests, to assist in diagnosing your child’s difficulty and describing his or her particular cognitive profile.

An evaluation typically lasts three to five hours depending on your child’s age and developmental level. Emerging skills can be assessed in very young children; the evaluation of infants and preschool children is usually shorter in duration because the child has not yet developed as many skills.

Educational Consulting

Education is considered such an important aspect of a child’s functioning that the PAC also provides the services of an educational specialist who can assist with recommendations tailored to your child’s specific school curriculum. We also offer additional education testing, direct consultation with your child’s school and the development of individual education services.

Referrals for Neuropsychological Evaluation

Children can be referred by a physician, teacher, school psychologist or other professional for a variety of issues:

  • Difficulty in learning, attention, behavior, socialization or emotional control
  • A disease or developmental problem that affects the brain
  • A brain injury from an accident, birth trauma or other physical stress

What to Expect from the Assessment

A neuropsychological evaluation usually includes:

  • An interview with the parents about the child’s history
  • Observation of the child
  • Interview with the child
  • Direct testing (involving paper and pencil or hands-on activities, answering questions or using a computer)

Parents may be asked to fill out questionnaires about their child’s development and behavior. Many neuropsychologists employ trained examiners, or technicians, to assist with the administration and scoring of tests, so your child may see more than one person during the evaluation. Parents are usually not in the room during testing, although they may be present with very young children. The time required depends on the child’s age and the concerns.

By comparing your child’s test scores to scores of children of similar ages, the neuropsychologist can create a profile of your child’s strengths and weaknesses. The results help those involved in your child’s care in a number of ways:

  • Testing can explain why your child is having school problems. For example, a child may have difficulty reading because of an attention problem, a language disorder or a reading disability
  • Testing guides the pediatric neuropsychologist’s design of interventions to draw upon your child’s strengths. The results identify what skills to work on, as well as which strategies to use to help your child
  • Testing can help detect the effects of developmental, neurological and medical problems, such as epilepsy, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia or a genetic disorder. Testing may be done to obtain a baseline against which to measure the outcome of treatment or the child’s development over time

How to prepare Your Child for the Evaluation

What you tell your child about this evaluation depends on how much he or she can understand. Be simple and brief and relate your explanation to a problem that your child knows about such as “trouble with spelling,” “problems following directions,” or “feeling upset.”

Reassure a worried child that testing involves no “shots.” Tell your child that you are trying to understand his or her problem to make things better. You may also tell the child that “nobody gets every question right,” and that the important thing is to “try your best.”

  • Make sure your child has a good night’s sleep and breakfast before the testing
  • If your child wears glasses or a hearing aid or any other device, make sure to bring it
  • If your child has special language needs, please alert the neuropsychologist to these
  • If your child is on stimulant medication, such as Ritalin, or other medication, check with the neuropsychologist beforehand about coordinating dosage time with testing
  • If your child has had previous school testing, an individual educational plan, or has related medical records, please bring or send this information and records to the neuropsychologist for review

Adult Evaluations

What to Expect During Your Neuropsychological Evaluation

A neuropsychological evaluation usually consists of two parts:

An Interview

During the interview, information that is important for the neuropsychologist to consider will be reviewed. You will be asked about your symptoms, medical history, medications, and other important factors.

Direct Testing

Testing involves taking paper-and pencil or computerized tests and answering questions. The time required depends on the problem being assessed. In general, several hours are needed to assess the many skills involved in processing information. Some tests will be easy while others will be more complex.

Preparing for Your Assessment

The most important thing is try your best. Bring glasses or hearing aids if you use them. Try to rest and relax before your evaluation. You will probably find testing interesting, and the detailed information that is gathered will contribute to your care.

Test results can be used to plan treatments that use strengths to compensate for weaknesses. The results help to identify what target problems to work on and which strategies to use. For example, the results can help to plan and monitor rehabilitation or to follow the recovery of skills after a stroke or traumatic brain injury. Studies have shown how scores on specific tests relate to everyday functional skills, such as managing money, driving or readiness to return to work. Your results will help your doctors understand what problems you may have in everyday life and guide their treatment recommendations.

 

Educational Consulting

Educational Consulting and Advocacy

Gretchen Timmel, MEd has over 25 years of experience working with families and students. Her services help students obtain the educational services that they need and provide a bridge between the clinical data obtained from neuropsychological evaluations and school services.

Ms. Timmel is a school psychologist who has expertise in educational approaches that are most effective in teaching students with different learning styles including dyslexia, language based and non-verbal learning disabilities, children on the autism spectrum, as well as advanced and gifted learners.

Her expertise also includes knowledge about educational settings (public and private) and the services that they provide allowing her to help guide families in making educational decisions for their children.

Education Services We Provide

Pediatric Services

Educational advocacy and consultation, which includes review of previous testing performed at Mass General or elsewhere and Independent Educational Plans (IEPs).

  • Design and writing of educational plans. With family input, Ms. Timmel writes an educational plan to address the child’s learning, social, behavioral or emotional concerns. Plans contain specific goals and appropriate educational methods and materials and evaluations required to help determine a child’s progress in attaining goals.
  • Classroom observations of current educational placement to provide first hand information of the child’s school performance, response to school setting and performance in specific subject areas. Observations of proposed classroom setting may be arranged as well.
  • Attendance at Independent Educational Planning (I.E.P.) meetings. At these meetings, Ms. Timmel is able to answer, any questions that school personnel may have regarding the child’s testing results and recommendations
  • Educational evaluations and accommodation testing performed to specifically address a child’s learning style and/or learning disability.
  • School placement consultation, including assessment of students’ needs for, either public or private setting.
  • Curriculum planning for public and private schools

Adult Services

  • Accommodation Testing: SAT, GRE, LSAT and all others
  • Study strategies: Tailored study recommendation to fit the individual
  • Educational consulting: Assisting in the selection of high school, post-high school college, post-graduate and other academic settings.

Contact

Psychology Assessment Center

One Bowdoin Square, 7th Floor
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: 617-726-3647

  Near Public Transit
  Accessible

 

Directions to our offices

Our Center is located three blocks from the main entrance of Mass General's main campus. If you are driving to our building, set your GPS device to 15 New Chardon Street for best results.

Due to the length of evaluations and the cost of parking in nearby commercial garages, we recommend parking in one of the the hospital garages. A free campus shuttle van may be requested at the Yawkey Lobby Information Desk, which will be bring you to 25 New Chardon Street. Shuttles run from 8 am to 4 pm.

Additional assessment and evaluation - Psychological Evaluation and Research Laboratory Multicultural Neuropsychology Program

Contact us for further information or to check on the status of your referral: 617-726-3647

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