Neurocognitive Functioning Lab

Researching neurocognitive functioning for the benefit of the underserved and marginalized

Neuro Cog Lab

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ben Pyykkonen

The lab meets to discuss relevant issues in neuropsychology and care of diverse populations, including older adults, individuals experiencing significant medical health concerns, and those with cognitive impairments. In addition, we are dedicated to the development and improvement of assessment measures for these same populations, evaluating use and utility of many common measures for different populations, or developing measures to fit in gaps in currently available techniques.

Our current projects include:

  • Meta-analysis of the Effects of Hydrocephalus on Cognitive Functioning
  • Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Chemotherapy on Cognition in Children and Adults
  • Development of Normative Standards for Community Dwelling Older Adults
  • Domain Based Correlates of the Phonemic and Semantic Fluency Task and the Trail Making Test

Dissertations from our current students cover the following topics:

  • Comparison of short-term and long-term cognitive outcomes of electroconvulsive therapy in a depressed and bipolar patient sample: A meta-analytic study
  • The repeated exposure verbal learning task: a pilot, normative study
  • The efficacy of ACT with individuals with intellectual disability: A pilot study on the role of intelligence and language in treatment response
  • Exploratory and principle component factor analysis of the Geriatric Anxiety Inventory
  • Sandbagging in concussion baseline testing: An investigation of feigned cognitive deficit on the ImPACT using the Victoria Symptom Validity Test and EEG

We have had students at many local Chicago-area sites, doing therapy and assessments in a variety of settings.

  • University of Chicago Medical Center, Neuropsychology Department
  • Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital- Center for Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders
  • Outreach Community Center Older Adults Program Mood and Memory Clinic
  • Meier Clinics
  • Wheaton College Counseling Center
  • Olivet Nazarene University Counseling Center
  • Chicago State University Counseling Center
  • Trinity Services, Inc.  - Behavioral Health Services
  • Heritage Professional Associates

Here are some of the projects students in this lab have presented at professional conferences over the past few years!

  • Geriatric anxiety inventory: What are we measuring?
  • A comparison of acceptance and commitment therapy and contemplative practices.
  • The longitudinal effects of electroconvulsive therapy on memory:  A meta-analysis.
  • Domain-specific cognitive performance among adult survivors of cancer treated with chemotherapy: A meta-analysis of prospective, longitudinal studies.
  • What can religiosity, spirituality, and religious coping teach us about psychosocial outcomes among family caregivers? A critical literature review.
  • Impact of mood on functional status in older adults.
  • Group differences between mild cognitive impairment, vascular dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease on the Geriatric Depression Scale.
  • Neurocognitive correlations in hypersexuality: clinical considerations.
  • PWS Genetic Subtype Comparison of Executive Functioning and adaptive Behavior.
  • The Relationship of Executive Functioning and Adaptive Skills in PWS Youth.

Reps: Carissa Lane, M.A.


APA Division 40 - The Society for Clinical Neuropsychology provides ANST as a means for students and trainees to develop their professional identities in the field of Clinical Neuropsychology.  The Wheaton ANST interest group was founded in 2016 and has 12 active members as of Summer 2018 who participate in the e-mail listserv, attend lectures, and participate in events.

Over the 2017-18, the Wheaton ANST interest group has focused on two main initiatives: didactics/fact-finding exercises and mentorship. These efforts are benefiting students and helping them prepare to become excellent board-certified neuropsychologists dedicated to serving their chosen patient populations. 

Each week over the summer (and at least monthly in 2018-19) the Wheaton ANST Interest Group meets for approximately 3 hours for a presentation on a specific topic in neuropsychology, followed by a case conference in which students use the fact-finding method to discover components of the case and formulate impressions/recommendations. Thus far, the group has had presentations on the cognitive domains and effort in neuropsychological assessment, Alzheimer’s disease, and the vascular system/cerebrovascular disease. Future topics of discussion will include DLB, movement disorders, TBI, FTD, toxic/metabolic syndromes, the neuropsychology of psychiatric conditions, neurodevelopmental disorders, and many others. Fact-finding has become increasingly valuable to students over time as they learn case conceptualization and integrate knowledge they have gained through didactics.
Through a mentorship program established within the past year, ANST students at Wheaton are matched in pairs based upon varying levels of experience and topics of interest. Mentors are expected to meet with their mentees at least once monthly to guide them through searching out high-quality neuropsychology training sites, research opportunities, and general areas of professional development. This mentorship program allows less experienced students to receive individualized guidance from those who have navigated similar training paths, while building professional relationships that might not have been fostered otherwise.

Pierson, C. Waite, E. & Pyykkonen, B. (2106). A Meta-Analysis of the Neuropsychological Effects of Chemotherapy in the Treatment of Childhood Cancer and Brain Tumors. Pediatric Blood Cancers.

Pyykkonen, B. (2016). Substance abuse. In Han, D. Acquired Brain Injury: Clinical Essentials for Neurotrauma and Rehabilitation Professionals. Springer Publishing Company.

Mullhauser, K., Struthers, W., Hook, J., Pyykkonen, B., Womack, S. MacDonald, M. (2014). Performance on the Iowa Gambling Task in Hypersexual Men. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity.

Oliveira, M. Han, D. & Pyykkonen, B. (2014). Neurocognition in Hydrocephalus and Surgical Intervention. IN Neuropsychology: New Research. Nova Science Publishers.

Han, D. Y., Pyykkonen, B. A., Shandera-Ochsner, A. L., & Schmitt, F. A. (September 2014). Frontotemporal Dementias. In C. A. Noggle & R. S. Dean (Eds.), The Neuropsychology of Cortical Dementias (pp. 221-249). New York: Springer.

Grote, C. & Pyykkonen, B. (2011) Ethical Practice of Forensic Neuropsychological Assessment. In G. Larrabee (Ed.), Forensic Neuropsychology: A Scientific Approach. Oxford, Oxford University Press

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