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Nancy Lee Raitano

Nancy Raitano Lee, PhD

Director of MS and BS/MS Programs
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology

Curriculum Vitae:

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)


Nancy Raitano Lee, PhD, is a child clinical psychologist who specializes in developmental neuropsychology. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Cornell University and her doctorate in Child Clinical Psychology from the University of Denver. Her clinical training includes the completion of a pre-doctoral internship at the Children’s Hospital of Colorado and a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Colorado School of Medicine’s Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. Following her training in psychology, Lee completed a fellowship at the National Institute of Mental Health focused on the use of structural neuroimaging to study the developing brain in youth with genetic disorders and those with typical development.

As a child psychologist working within a developmental cognitive neuroscience framework, Lee’s research program aims to augment knowledge about the causes and correlates of developmental learning disorders through the use of innovative neuropsychological and neuroimaging technologies. Much of her research over the past several years has focused on three interrelated areas of investigation: (a) cognitive and social development in children with different genetic disorders, (b) brain development in Down syndrome and other chromosomal aneuploidies, and (c) links between brain and behavior in youth with typical development. For a list of representative publications related to these topics, please see below.

Active research projects in Professor Lee’s lab include studies of:

  • the cognitive underpinnings of reading comprehension difficulties in children with Down syndrome (funded by the Jerome Lejeune Foundation;
  • the relationships between parent-child interactions and cognitive development in Down syndrome and other forms of intellectual disability
  • the assessment of memory skills in youth with Down syndrome and fragile X syndrome predictors of employment and quality of life in individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorder

How we make a difference – The LADDER Lab:

Lee and the students in the LADDER lab conduct research that aims to improve adult outcomes and quality of life for individuals with intellectual disabilities and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Intellectual disability, formerly known as mental retardation, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts 1% of the population. It is characterized by global learning difficulties that greatly reduce academic achievement, employment and independence. Despite the frequency of this diagnosis and its profound impact on everyday functioning, there is a limited understanding of the mechanisms that contribute to poor outcomes. Moreover, specialized treatments that target key cognitive processes that are contributing to outcomes are lacking.

Lee’s research is making an impact for this community in two ways. First, her team is working to identify which aspects of cognition relate to real world functioning, such as reading, daily living skills, employment and independent living, so that more precise and targeted interventions can be implemented. Second, her work is examining malleable factors, such as parenting strategies, that are predictive of better outcomes in order to develop a parent-implemented intervention to improve higher level thinking and problem-solving skills in youth with intellectual disability. Thus, Lee’s team is making a difference through their commitment to serving a community that has been underserved by scientists but is in great need of additional supports to optimize quality of life.

Representative publications:

Cognitive and Social Development in Children with Genetic Disorders

  • Lee NR, Anand P, Will E, Adeyemi EI, Clasen LS, Blumenthal JD, Giedd JN, Daunhauer LA, Fidler DJ, Edgin JO. Everyday executive functions in Down syndrome from early childhood to young adulthood: evidence for both unique and shared characteristics compared to youth with sex chromosome trisomy (XXX and XXY). Front Behav Neurosci. 2015;9:264. PubMed PMID: 26539087; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4611056
  • Lee NR, Wallace GL, Adeyemi EI, Lopez KC, Blumenthal JD, Clasen LS, Giedd JN. Dosage effects of X and Y chromosomes on language and social functioning in children with supernumerary sex chromosome aneuploidies: implications for idiopathic language impairment and autism spectrum disorders. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2012 Oct;53(10):1072-81. PubMed PMID: 22827287; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3480208.
  • Lee NR, Wallace GL, Clasen LS, Lenroot RK, Blumenthal JD, White SL, Celano MJ, Giedd JN. Executive function in young males with Klinefelter (XXY) syndrome with and without comorbid attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2011 May;17(3):522-30. PubMed PMID: 21418719; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3340493.
  • Raitano Lee N, Pennington BF, Keenan JM. Verbal short-term memory deficits in Down syndrome: phonological, semantic, or both?. J Neurodev Disord. 2010 Mar;2(1):9-25. PubMed PMID: 22127838; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3164030.

Brain Development in Down Syndrome and Other Genetic Disorders

  • Lee NR, Adeyemi EI, Lin A, Clasen LS, Lalonde FM, Condon E, Driver DI, Shaw P, Gogtay N, Raznahan A, Giedd JN. Dissociations in Cortical Morphometry in Youth with Down Syndrome: Evidence for Reduced Surface Area but Increased Thickness. Cereb Cortex. 2016 Jul;26(7):2982-90. PubMed PMID: 26088974; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4898663.
  • Raznahan A, Lee NR, Greenstein D, Wallace GL, Blumenthal JD, Clasen LS, Giedd JN. Globally Divergent but Locally Convergent X- and Y-Chromosome Influences on Cortical Development. Cereb Cortex. 2016 Jan;26(1):70-9. PubMed PMID: 25146371; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4701121.
  • Lenroot RK, Blumenthal JD, Wallace GL, Clasen LS, Lee NR, Giedd JN. A case-control study of brain structure and behavioral characteristics in 47,XXX syndrome. Genes Brain Behav. 2014 Nov;13(8):841-9. PubMed PMID: 25287572; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4241137.
  • Blumenthal JD, Baker EH, Lee NR, Wade B, Clasen LS, Lenroot RK, Giedd JN. Brain morphological abnormalities in 49,XXXXY syndrome: A pediatric magnetic resonance imaging study. Neuroimage Clin. 2013;2:197-203. PubMed PMID: 23667827; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3649771.

Links between brain and behavior in typical development

  • Lee NR, Wallace GL, Raznahan A, Clasen LS, Giedd JN. Trail making test performance in youth varies as a function of anatomical coupling between the prefrontal cortex and distributed cortical regions. Front Psychol. 2014;5:496. PubMed PMID: 25071613; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4077145.
  • Lee NR, Raznahan A, Wallace GL, Alexander-Bloch A, Clasen LS, Lerch JP, Giedd JN. Anatomical coupling among distributed cortical regions in youth varies as a function of individual differences in vocabulary abilities. Hum Brain Mapp. 2014 May;35(5):1885-95. PubMed PMID: 23728856.
  • Wallace GL, Shaw P, Lee NR, Clasen LS, Raznahan A, Lenroot RK, Martin A, Giedd JN. Distinct cortical correlates of autistic versus antisocial traits in a longitudinal sample of typically developing youth. J Neurosci. 2012 Apr 4;32(14):4856-60. PubMed PMID: 22492041; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3342014.
  • Wallace GL, Lee NR, Prom-Wormley EC, Medland SE, Lenroot RK, Clasen LS, Schmitt JE, Neale MC, Giedd JN. A bivariate twin study of regional brain volumes and verbal and nonverbal intellectual skills during childhood and adolescence. Behav Genet. 2010 Mar;40(2):125-34. PubMed PMID: 20112131; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2996830.

Complete Publication List