Emily J. Helder

Dr. Helder is a clinical neuropsychologist, a specialty which focuses on the way that changes in the brain impact thinking, behavior and emotions. Her research focuses on the impact of early experiences on later development. Dr. Helder teaches a wide variety of classes including Introductory Psychology (151), Fundamentals of Research and Practice (256), Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience, Psychopathology (212) and Clinical and Counseling Assessment (312).

Dr. Helder and her husband, Jonathan, have two children, Lily and Flint. As a family they love to spend time outdoors and grow vegetables in their ever expanding home garden.

Academic Interests & Research

Professor Helder teaches Introductory Psychology, Fundamentals of Research and Practice, Clinical Assessment, Brain and Behavior, and Clinical Neuroanatomy. Dr. Helder received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Calvin College and her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Wayne State University. She completed her clinical internship at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Her specialty focus within clinical psychology is neuropsychology, focusing on the relationship between the brain and behavior. Her research interests include studying the effects of childhood injury or adversity on later development, the relationship between brain imaging and neuropsychology, and the plasticity of cognitive skills such as language. Lately her research has focused on the cognitive, emotional, and social outcomes in children adopted from international orphanages.

Professor Helder examined the impact of stress on early childhood in a seminar entitled,  "Stress in Early Childhood: impact on the brain and implications for interventions."  The PowerPoint slides that accompanied her lecture are also available.

Find out more about Dr. Helder's International Adoption Study.

In 2013 Dr. Helder received The Faculty Lectureship Award in recognition of her scholarly achievements and professional contributions. View Dr. Helder's lecture entitled, "Outcomes in International Adoption."



  • University of Chicago Medical School – 2008-2009, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Pre-doctoral Internship
  • Wayne State University, Detroit, MI – 2009, Ph.D. Clinical Psychology, Minor areas of Specialization: Neuropsychology, Developmental
  • Wayne State University, Detroit, MI – 2006, M.A. Clinical Psychology
  • Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI – December 2002, B.A. in Psychology, Minor: Communication Arts & Sciences (Oral Rhetoric)

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Research and scholarship

Cognitive and Behavioral Outcomes for International Adoptees

This research study was designed to examine cognitive, emotional and behavioral outcomes in children who have been adopted internationally, to recruit children adopted at young ages as well as children who have been adopted at older ages to be able to compare their level of functioning over time and to examine the interrelationship between cognitive, behavioral, and emotional functioning in internationally adopted children.

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Selected publications

Helder, E. J., Mulder, E.*, Gunnoe, M. L.  (in press). A longitudinal investigation of children internationally adopted at school-age. Child Neuropsychology.

Helder, E.J., Behen, M. E., Muzik, O., Bhatt, A., Chugani, H.T. (2014).  Language impairment following early deprivation: Neuropsychological and functional neural correlates. Child Neuropsychology, 20, 470-492.

Kumar, A., Behen, M. E., Singsoonsud, P., Veenstra, A., Wolfe-Christensen, C., Helder, E., Chugani, H. (2013). Microstructural abnormalities in language and limbic pathways in orphanage-reared children. Journal of Child Neurology, advance online publication, DOI: 10.1177/0883073812474098.

Donders, J.  Elzinga, B.*, Kuipers, D.*, Helder, E. J., Crawford, J. R. (2013).  Development of an 8-subtest short form of the WISC–IV and evaluation of its clinical utility in children with traumatic brain injury. Child Neuropsychology, 19, 662-670.

Larsen, T. L.*, Helder, E. J., Behen, M. E. (2012).  Neurocognitive and behavioral correlates of nonright-handedness in internationally adoption children. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 34, 999-1007.

Behen, M., Helder, E. J., Rothermel, R., Solomon, K., Muzik, O., Chugani, D., Chugani, H. (2008).  Incidence of specific absolute neurocognitive impairment in a sample of children with histories of early severe social deprivation. Child Neuropsychology, 14, 453-469.


*indicates student participation


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