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The Developing Brain in Down Syndrome: Insights from Structural Neuroimaging

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

4:00 PM-5:30 PM

BIOMED Seminar

The Developing Brain in Down Syndrome: Insights from Structural Neuroimaging

Nancy Raitano Lee, PhD
Assistant Professor
Director of MS and Accelerated BS/MS Programs
Department of Psychology
Drexel University

Down syndrome is the most common genetic cause of intellectual disability, a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts an individual’s ability to work and live independently in adulthood. At present, there are over 400,000 people with Down syndrome living in the United States. Vocational outcomes and independence are limited for this group. Moreover, a sizeable subset of individuals with Down syndrome will develop precocious onset Alzheimer’s disease, resulting in an even greater need for care later in life. Thus, there is a significant need to identify mechanisms underlying the cognitive impairments that characterize intellectual disability in individuals with Down syndrome so that more effective interventions can be developed to improve cognitive outcomes and increase independent living for those with the syndrome.

My research over the past ten years has focused on characterizing the cognitive and biological underpinnings of the learning challenges faced by those with Down syndrome and other neurodevelopmental disorders. In my laboratory, I harness multiple scientific methods, including the use of neuropsychological assessment tools and magnetic resonance imaging technology. In this talk, I will describe my research that has focused on characterizing the cortex in youth with Down syndrome as well as more recent work examining differences in both cortical and subcortical brain morphometry in those with Down syndrome with and without sleep difficulties. Neuroimaging findings will be discussed within the context of what is known about the cognitive challenges faced by those with Down syndrome and the need to identify novel treatments to improve adult outcomes for this group.

Nancy Raitano Lee, PhD, is a child psychologist and assistant professor in the Psychology Department at Drexel University. Dr. Lee leads the LADDER (Learning And Developmental Disabilities Educational Neuropsychology Research) Lab at Drexel where she conducts both clinical and translational research on neurodevelopmental disorders, with a particular emphasis on neurogenetic syndromes.

Dr. Lee has published on executive function and language profiles associated with Down syndrome and sex chromosome aneuploidies, as well as typical and atypical brain development. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Lejeune Foundation.

Contact Information

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Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building (PISB), Room 120, located on the northeast corner of 33rd and Chestnut Streets.


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