Nancy Raitano Lee, PhD, is a clinical child 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 Clinical Child 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 two primary areas of investigation: (a) cognitive and social development in children and young adults with different neurodevelopmental disorders, and (b) brain development in youth with Down syndrome and other chromosomal aneuploidies. For a list of representative publications related to these topics, please see below.
Active research projects in Professor Lee’s lab include studies of:
- Cognition and real world outcomes in children and young adults with neurodevelopmental disorders
- Memory skills in youth with Down and fragile X syndromes1
- Reading comprehension difficulties in children with Down syndrome2
- Parent-child interactions and cognitive development in Down syndrome2
- Employment and quality of life among young adults with autism spectrum disorder1
- Brain development in Down syndrome
- Use of fNIRS to study the neural correlates of executive function in Down syndrome1
- Structural and functional MRI studies of Down syndrome2
1 Data collection ongoing; 2 Data collection complete; data analysis phase
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.
Cognitive and Social Development in Children with Genetic Disorders
- Hamner T, Hepburn S, Zhang F, Fidler D, Robinson Rosenberg C, Robins DL, Lee NR. Cognitive Profiles and Autism Symptoms in Comorbid Down Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2019 Oct 8;PubMed PMID: 31599791.
- Godfrey M, Hepburn S, Fidler DJ, Tapera T, Zhang F, Rosenberg CR, Raitano Lee N. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) symptom profiles of children with comorbid Down syndrome (DS) and ASD: A comparison with children with DS-only and ASD-only. Res Dev Disabil. 2019 Jun;89:83-93. PubMed PMID: 30959431.
- Godfrey M, Lee NR. Memory profiles in Down syndrome across development: a review of memory abilities through the lifespan. J Neurodev Disord. 2018 Jan 29;10(1):5. PubMed PMID: 29378508; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5789527.
- 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
- Udhnani M, Maiman M, Blumenthal JD, Clasen LS, Wallace GL, Giedd JN, Raznahan A, Lee NR. Phonemic and Semantic Verbal Fluency in Sex Chromosome Aneuploidy: Contrasting the Effects of Supernumerary X versus Y Chromosomes on Performance. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2018 Oct;24(9):917-927. PubMed PMID: 30375320.
- 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.
Brain Development in Down Syndrome and Other Genetic Disorders
- Hamner T, Udhnani MD, Osipowicz KZ, Lee NR. Pediatric Brain Development in Down Syndrome: A Field in Its Infancy. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2018 Oct;24(9):966-976. PubMed PMID: 29789029; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6207466.
- 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.
- Adeyemi EI, Giedd JN, Lee NR. A case study of brain morphometry in triplets discordant for Down syndrome. Am J Med Genet A. 2015 May;167A(5):1107-10. PubMed PMID: 25820455.
- 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.
- 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.