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Developmental Neuropsychology Lab

The Developmental Neuropsychology Lab is run by Paul T. Cirino, Ph.D. We have a primary interest in understanding the neuropsychological, developmental, and intervention aspects of neurodevelopmental disorders. Particular populations of interest include students with learning difficulties in mathematics and reading, and spina bifida. We have a specific interest in the overlap among the neuropsychological domains of working memory, attention, and executive function, and their relation to academic skill and difficulty across the skill continuum, including how these relate to an understanding of comorbidity across areas of weakness.

We are interested in the neuropsychological underpinnings of math skills, how they vary according to math outcome, and how these relationships vary over the course of scholastic development (elementary, middle, and high school, as well as college). One recently completed project in the area of mathematics is a grant from the Institute of Educational Sciences (IES, R305A110067) concerning algebraic learning, for which Dr. Cirino is PI. Read more about this project. Most recently, we have received a different grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF, #1760760), on math learning disability (MLD) in young adults, for which Dr. Cirino is also PI. This project is designed to improve our understanding of the structure of math and related skills, how MLD might be identified, and how to externally validate the construct. Read more about this project.

We are also interested in reading skills and how they are impacted by “domain general” skills including executive function (EF), and attention. Dr. Cirino is PI for one of the projects of the Texas Center for Learning Disabilities (TCLD), funded by the National Institutes of Health (NICHD, P50 HD052117), that was focused on EF. Read a news story about this project. Read a second news story about this project. We have recently received funding to continue this work with a focus on a construct that is similarly difficult to operationalize (attention), also with Dr. Cirino as PI for one of the projects on this competing continuation of the TCLD, also funded by NICHD. This project is also focused on English language learners and the comorbidity amongst reading, math, and attention.

The lab is interested in prospective doctoral students whose interests strongly align with those above research areas. The major emphasis of clinical neuropsychology as situated within the broader clinical program affords the development of clinical skills in both therapy and neuropsychology, although the focus of the lab per se is on research.

 

Lab News

September 2018 Dr. Cirino received a $2.5M grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), entitled “Math learning disabilities among young adults in college: Structure, identification, and validation”.

Dr. Cirino has attained the rank of Full Professor, at the University of Houston.

August 2018 The DNL welcomes Anthony Gioia to the lab!

DNL member Emily Warren successfully defended her doctoral Dissertation, “Predictors of social adjustment in pediatric brain tumor survivors: A comparison of proton and photon radiation therapy groups”. She is currently on clinical internship at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH.

DNL member Kelly Macdonald submitted an F-31 proposal to NIH, entitled “The roles of first and second oral language processes in reading and math outcomes among English language learners in middle school”.

July 2018 DNL members Amanda Child and Kelly Macdonald (with Dr. Cirino) publish the manuscript, “Longitudinal overlap of reading and math and their predictors” in Contemporary Educational Psychology.

TCLD team members (with Dr. Cirino) publish the manuscript, “Control engagement during sentence and inhibition fMRI tasks in children with reading difficulties”, in Cerebral Cortex.

June 2018 Dr. Cirino presented at a symposium of the annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Studies of Reading, in Brighton, UK, reviewing a series of studies focused on executive function.

TCLD team members (with Dr. Cirino) publish the manuscript, “Executive functions and response to intervention: Identification of struggling readers”, in Learning Disability Quarterly.

May 2018 DNL member Jesse Fischer successfully his doctoral Dissertation, “Frontostriatal white matter integrity relations with ‘cool’ and ‘hot’ self-regulation following pediatric traumatic brain injury”. He is currently on clinical internship at the UCLA Semel Institute in Los Angeles.

DNL member Amanda Child successfully defended her doctoral Dissertation, “Academic fluency in pediatric brain tumor survivors treated with proton beam radiation therapy versus photon radiation therapy”. She is currently on clinical internship at the University of Chicago School of Medicine.

DNL undergraduate member Andrea Ochoa received a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF), to work in the DNL this summer. Congratulations Andrea!

Dr. Cirino publishes the manuscript, “Longitudinal algebra prediction for early versus later takers”, in the Journal of Educational Research.

March 2018 DNL undergraduate member Rachel O’Reilly successfully completed her senior honors thesis, entitled “Internalizing and externalizing symptoms and their relation to math difficulties and spina bifida”.

Dr. Cirino gave a plenary talk at the 24th Butters-Kaplan West Coast Neuropsychology Conference, entitled “Understanding the developmental neuroscience of mathematics: Application to neurodevelopmental populations”, in San Diego, CA.

DNL member Amanda Child (with Dr. Cirino) has her thesis, “A cognitive dimensional approach to understanding shared and unique contributions to reading, math, and attentional skills”, published in the Journal of Learning Disabilities.

February 2018 Several members of the DNL (Amanda Child, Kelly Macdonald) presented posters at the International Neuropsychological Society Meeting in Washington, DC. Dr. Cirino presented as well.

Dr. Cirino (with TCLD team members and DNL member Elyssa Gerst), have their manuscript, “A framework for executive function in the late elementary years”, published in Neuropsychology.

January 2018 TCLD team members (with Dr. Cirino), have their manuscript, “Cortical thickness and local gyrification” in children with developmental dyslexia”, published in Cerebral Cortex.

October 2017 Dr. Cirino is PI of a new project on attention and achievement. The project is one of five in the new Texas Center for Learning Disabilities (TCLD), which you can read more about by clicking here.

September 2017 DNL member Jesse Fischer’s thesis work sleep and internalizing disorders in children with TBI, is now in press in the Journal, Neuropsychology.

August 2017 The DNL welcomes Kelly Halverson to the lab!

DNL member Kelly Macdonald publishes a first-author paper in the Journal Frontiers in Psychology, on “neuromyths”. You can read a summary of this paper here. Kelly was featured (along with co-author Dr. Lauren McGrath, and also Dr. Daniel Willingham) on the NPR show “Science Friday” with Ira Flato, which you can listen to here.

A Special Issue on executive functions and achievement (edited by Dr. Cirino, with Dr. Erik Willcutt) is published in the Journal of Learning Disabilities. A link to the table of contents of the special issue is available here. Included in the special issue is an article by TCLD team members (including Dr. Cirino, and DNL members Elyssa Gerst, Amanda Child, and Emily Warren), “Executive function, self-regulated learning, and reading comprehension: A training study”.

July 2017 DNL member Jesse Fischer completed all requirements of his comprehensive exams, including passing the EPPP, and attains LPA status.

May 2017 Congratulations to Dr. Elyssa Gerst, who received her Ph.D. at UH commencement! She completed her internship, and is heading off to her postdoctoral fellowship at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. Way to go, Dr. Gerst – welcome to the DNL alumni club!

Congratulations to Dr. John Elias, who received his Ph.D. at UH commencement! He completed his internship, and is now beginning his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque, NM. Way to go, Dr. Elias, and welcome to the DNL alumni club!

April 2017 DNL member Will Lacey successfully defends his thesis, “The Role of Magnitude Processes and Working Memory for Learning Algebra”.

February 2017 Several members of the DNL (Emily Warren, Elyssa Gerst, Amanda Child, Will Lacey) presented posters at the International Neuropsychological Society Meeting in New Orleans, LA. Dr. Cirino presented as well.

January 2017 DNL member Elyssa Gerst’s thesis work, “Cognitive and behavioral rating measures of executive function as predictors of academic outcomes in children”, is published in Child Neuropsychology.

Archived

August 2016 The DNL welcomes Kelly Macdonald to the lab!

DNL member Amanda Child completes all requirements of her comprehensive exams, including passing the EPPP, and attains LPA status.

June 2016 DNL member Elyssa Gerst successfully defends her dissertation, “Processing Speed in Children: Examination of the Structure in Middle Childhood and its Impact on Reading”

May 2016 DNL member Emily Huston-Warren successfully defends her thesis, “The Role of Executive Functions and Self-Regulated Learning in Math Development: A Path Analytic framework”

February 2016 Several members of the lab (John Elias, Amanda Child) presented posters at the International Neuropsychological Society Meeting in Boston, MA. Dr. Cirino presented as well.

DNL member Elyssa Gerst matches for internship at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora, CO. Congratulations Elyssa!

DNL member John Elias matches for internship at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque, NM. Congratulations John!

January 2016 Dr. Cirino is named Editor-in-Chief of Learning and Individual Differences

December 2015 DNL member Amanda Child successfully defends her thesis, “A cognitive dimensional approach to understanding comorbidity among reading disability, math disability, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder”

November 2015 Elyssa Gerst thesis paper is in press in Child Neuropsychology. Way to go Elyssa!

October 2015 Dr. Cirino presented a talk on executive functions in a symposium at the International Dyslexia Association

John Elias successfully defended his dissertation, "A model for the contributions of executive functions, math anxiety, and parental expectations toward math achievement". Congratulations, John!

September 2015 Dr. Cirino is named Associate Editor of the journal, Learning and Individual Difference

August 2015 A special issue in the Journal of Learning Disabilities, on Executive Functions and Their Contribution to Academic Skills (and edited by Dr. Cirino, with Dr. Erik Willcutt), is in press.

July 2015 Dr. Cirino presented on executive function and reading comprehension in a symposium at the annual meeting of the Scientific Studies of Reading, Waikaloa, HI

Emily Maxwell began a postdoc with Children's Hospital Colorado

June 2015 Emily Maxwell successfully defended her dissertation, "The role of executive functioning, anxiety, and family burden on mathematical performance in children with traumatic brain injury." Congratulation, Emily

February 2015 Several members of the lab (Emily Maxwell, Emily Huston-Warren, Amanda Child, and Elyssa Gerst) presented posters at the International Neuropsychological Society Meeting in Denver, CO. Dr. Cirino presented as well.

November 2014 Elyssa Gerst Successfully defended her thesis, "Cognitive and behavioral rating measures of executive function as predictors of academic outcomes in children. Congratulations Elyssa!

September 2014 The DNL welcomes Will Lacey to the lab!

April 2014 Elyssa Gerst successfully defends her thesis proposal, “ Cognitive and behavioral rating measures of executive function as predictors of academic outcomes in children

Elyssa Gerst is named student representative to the Houston Neuropsychological Society ( HNS)

March 2014 Dr. Cirino presents an address on the neuropsychology of math at the West Coast Neuropsychology Conference in San Diego, CA.

February 2014 Becca Martin, John Elias, Elyssa Gerst, and Emily Huston-Warren present at the International Neuropsychological Society ( INS) Meeting in Seattle, WA.

Congratulations to Emily Maxwell, who successfully matched with Denver Children’s Hospital APA accredited clinical psychology internship. Way to go, Emily!

December 2013 Emily Maxwell successfully defends her dissertation proposal, “The role of anxiety, family environment, and executive functioning on mathematical performance in children with traumatic brain injury”

John Elias successfully defends his dissertation proposal, “A model for the contributions of executive functions, math anxiety, and parental expectations toward math achievement“

November 2013 Becca Martin successfully defends her Dissertation, “Memory in children with temporal and frontal lobe epilepsy, pre- and post-operatively”

September 2013 The DNL welcomes Amanda Child and Emily Huston-Warren to the lab!

February 2013 Congratulations to Becca Martin, who successfully matched with The Emory University School of Medicine/Grady Health System (Emory/Grady) APA accredited clinical psychology internship. Way to go, Becca!

Congratulations to Emily Maxwell and John Elias, who successfully passed Neuropsychology Specialty Comprehensive Exams

Becca Martin, Emily Maxwell, and Dr. Cirino present at the International Neuropsychological Society Meeting in Waikoloa, HI.

January 2013 Dr. Cirino is named Treasurer for the Houston Neuropsychological Association (HNS), continuing his long involvement with this organization.

December, 2012 Dr. Cirino is named to the Editorial Board of the Learning Disabilities Quarterly

November, 2012 John Elias successfully defended his Masters Thesis, “ Procedural versus conceptual Algebra Refresher Interventions in adults and the moderating effects of cognitive abilities”, which he is now preparing for publication.

October, 2012 Becca Martin successfully defended her Dissertation proposal, “ Memory and executive functions in pre- and post-operative epilepsy in children with temporal and frontal lobe epilepsy

Dr. Cirino is named to the Editorial Board of the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology

September, 2012    Dr. Cirino is awarded tenure as Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology.

August, 2012 Emily Maxwell successfully defended her Masters Thesis, “ Visual perception in children with spina bifida myelomeningocele and the impact of posterior cortical changes”, which she is now preparing for publication.

The lab welcomes Elyssa Gerst, a first year graduate student in neuropsychology

July, 2012  Congratulations to Becca Martin for passing Comprehensive Exams, including successfully passing the EPPP! Way to go Becca!

June, 2012     Congratulations to John Elias and Emily Maxwell for successful defenses of their thesis proposals! John’s thesis is entitled, “ Procedural versus conceptual algebra refresher interventions in adults and the moderating effects of cognitive abilities”. Emily’s thesis is entitled, “ Visual perception in children with spina bifida myelomeningocele and the impact of posterior cortical changes”.

April, 2012  Becca Martin, is named student representative to the Houston Neuropsychological Society ( HNS).

Dr. Cirino is named to the Editorial Board of the Journal of Learning Disabilities.

February, 2012  At the 40th Annual meeting of the International Neuropsychological Society ( INS), the lab was active in presenting posters! John Elias presented Magnitude representation, spatial abilities, and mathematical performance in adults. Emily Maxwell presented Symbolic and non-symbolic magnitude comparison and math skills in adults. Becca Martin presented, Counting procedural skill and conceptual knowledge in kindergarten as predictors of grade 1 math skills.

January, 2012   Becca Martin is named as the Programs Coordinator, for Students in Neuropsychology (SINS), an organization of the International Neuropsychological Society ( INS).

Dr. Cirino is named to the Association for Doctoral Education in Clinical Neuropsychology ( ADECN). He is Treasurer for ADECN.

Dr. Cirino is named Member at Large for the Houston Neuropsychological Association ( HNS), continuing his long involvement with this organization.

December, 2011 The competing continuation of the Texas Center for Learning Disabilities ( TCLD) is funded. Dr. Cirino is PI of Project II, Development of a Framework for Executive Functions in the Context of Reading Comprehension Skills and Difficulties

April, 2011 The lab is currently running a study evaluating the contributions of number sense and other cognitive skills in relation to mathematical skill in undergraduates. Current UH students may sign up for this study within the SONA system.

Dr. Cirino will present a talk at the meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) in Montreal, entitled, “ Profile Analysis of Children with MD With and Without RD on Mathematical Competencies in 2nd and 3rd Grade

February, 2011 Becca Martin presented two first-author posters at the International Neuropsychological Society (INS) meeting in Boston in February, 2011.  The title of the posters were “ Stability of math skills in children categorically and continuously”, and “ The role of non-symbolic and symbolic estimation and comparison in computational ability in adults”.

March, 2011 Dr. Cirino recently received an Institute for Education Sciences (IES) Exploration grant with Co-PI’s Tammy Tolar, Ph.D. (at TIMES/UH), and Lynn Fuchs, Ph.D. (at Vanderbilt University), entitled “ Arithmetical and Cognitive Antecedents and Concomitants of Algebra Skill”. The grant will run from August, 2011 to August 2015.

August, 2010 We welcome Emily Maxwell and John Elias to the lab. Emily and John are first year graduate students in the Neuropsychology Track of the Clinical Psychology program at UH.