Author: NRS Lifespan

Examining the Effects of Supplemental Magnesium on Self-Reported Anxiety and Sleep Quality: A Systematic Review.

Supplemental Magnesium 

With social media being an ever-expanding source of information, there is always new advice about supplements and medicines. One new, viral trend has been taking magnesium supplements to improve sleep and reduce anxiety. There is always research to be done, but current work has shown that magnesium can help combat anxiety and sleep disturbances.

Magnesium is an essential mineral in the human body, and much of the United States population does not meet the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium and is at risk for possible insufficiency. Magnesium has been used to treat migraines, arrhythmias, and acute asthma exacerbations, and as a laxative. It is also used in obstetrics for the treatment of eclampsia and pre-eclampsia and in neuroprotection for premature infants.

Neurobiologically, magnesium ions function as NMDA receptor antagonists, meaning they stop the NMDA receptor from producing a response by binding to the receptor in place of calcium. The NMDA receptor is the primary excitatory neurotransmitter in the human brain, so magnesium prevents the excessive activation of the receptor. Magnesium also binds to and stimulates GABA receptors in the brain, which also relaxes the brain.

One review of many articles looking at the relationship between magnesium, sleep, and anxiety has shown that in higher doses it can help to improve sleep and reduce anxiety. Four out of the five studies using MgO reported positive results, and a study using magnesium L-aspartate also showed improvements in sleep quality. Further, five out of seven studies featuring anxiety-related outcomes reported positive results, with higher doses causing greater reductions in anxiety. Variations in the results are attributable to differences in the form of magnesium, dosage, and time period; however, overall, magnesium improved sleep quality and reduced anxiety.

Examining the Effects of Supplemental Magnesium on Self-Reported Anxiety and Sleep Quality: A Systematic Review.

Alexander Rawji, Morgan Peltier, Kelly Mourtzanakis, Samreen Awan, Junaid Rana, Nitin Pothen, & Saba Afzal (2024, Cureus).

The lead author, Dr. Alexander Rawji, is currently completing a neuropsychology rotation at NRS|LS. 

Disclaimer:  Always consult and obtain approval from your primary health care physician before taking an over-the-counter medication.


Autism Spectrum in Females

Unfortunately, many women with autism go undiagnosed. Historically, autism has been diagnosed more frequently in males than females, leading to a gender bias in research and clinical understanding. This bias stems from the fact that autism presents differently in females, often manifesting in subtler ways that may be overlooked or misinterpreted.

Females with autism often exhibit different behavioral patterns and coping mechanisms compared to males. They may display stronger social skills, as they tend to have a larger emotional vocabulary, greater awareness and desire for social interaction, and an ability to mimic others in social situations. They also tend to have intact symbolic and imaginary play and may develop a few close friendships. Their restricted interests may be more related to people and animals rather than inanimate objects, which is often seen in males.

Often, women will go undiagnosed because their behaviors may be mistakenly attributed to shyness, anxiety, or other conditions. Autism in females is a complex phenomenon, but by recognizing the distinctive characteristics, more women can get the support they need.

Camouflaging in ASD

Some people with Autism Spectrum Disorder may hide or camouflage their symptoms, making it harder to recognize and diagnose. Research points to this being a protective effect, more common in females. This “Camouflaging Effect” is because females are more likely to hide behaviors associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder likely because of social pressures, leading to higher rates of internalizing disorders like anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.

There are three categories of camouflaging. The first one is compensation, which is how an individual compensates for social challenges. This is often in the form of copying the behaviors of other people. The second category is masking, which is how an individual attempts to hide autistic characteristics. This can be done by forcing eye contact and tolerating overwhelming situations even when in distress. The third category is assimilation which is how an individual fits in with others in social contexts like forcing interactions with others. Camouflaging in Autism Spectrum disorder is a complex trait that can make identification harder.  Hence, comprehensive neurodevelopmental assessment is recommended in order to provide a thorough understanding of the child or adolescent.

If you have any concerns about a social emotional developmental condition, please call our office to schedule a consultation.



Mood disorders in the pediatric population? 

A frequent referral to our practice is to diagnosis and differentiate complex neuropsychological presentations. A common example is to differentiate different types of conditions, such as, Bipolar Disorder, Oppositional Defiance, Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, Conduct Disorder, ADHD, OCD, etc.  This blog post focuses on mood related conditions.

Bipolar disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, and disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) are three main mood disorders that may be difficult to differentiate between.

In bipolar disorder, children present with symptoms of both major depressive disorder and mania. In children, depressive episodes may present as a decrease in interest in life, agitation, inconsistent sleep (too much or too little), appetite changes, lower energy and activity levels, inability to concentrate, sadness, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, and thoughts of self-harm, etc. Manic episodes would include an elevated, euphoric mood inflated self-esteem, increased energy levels, decreased need for sleep, increased talkativeness, racing thoughts, distractibility, and increased impulsivity. Children can cycle through these states significantly faster than adults with bipolar disorder, but they still have distinct depressive and manic episodes.

Intermittent explosive disorder is classified by repeated, sudden episodes of impulsive, aggressive, violent behavior or angry verbal outbursts, which are too extreme for the situation. The outbursts are short and not premeditated, examples of this can include road rage with adults. The onset of recurrent, problematic, impulsive aggressive behavior is most common in late childhood or adolescence and rarely begins for the first time after age 40 years. This condition cannot be diagnosed before 6 years of age.

If the child’s irritability is persistent and particularly severe, they may, instead be disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD). Outbursts characteristic of DMDD are more frequent, and the child’s mood between the outbursts is persistently irritable or angry most of the day, nearly every day. The outbursts start before the age of 10 and can be diagnosed only between the ages of 6 and 18 years old.

Children experiencing sudden outbursts or irritability and aggression may have intermittent explosive disorder rather than bipolar disorder.  Sudden outbursts of irritability and aggression could be mistaken for Bipolar Disorder; however they are more consistent with Intermittent condition.  As a result, a thorough assessment of the child including collateral information is necessary.

At NRS|LS we employ a comprehensive approach to assessing mood disorders. Our data is collected from parents, teachers, other significant family members, medical team providers of the child’s care, objective data pertaining to the child, etc. Treatment recommendations will vary depending upon accurate diagnostic procedures and outcomes.

Please call our office if you have any questions or would like a consultation with our neuropsychologist.



COVID-19: Impact on children and adolescents’ mental, educational and social functioning


“The Lost Years: an Integrative Review of the Mental Health,
Educational, and Social Impact of the Pandemic on Children
and Adolescents From 2019 to 2022″

The following was taken from the conclusion section of the following article that was recently
published from the Journal of Pediatric Neuropsychology (2024) 10:49–90

“It is clear that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,
lockdown, quarantine, and extended social distancing
measures have had a deleterious effect on children and adolescents’
mental health, interpersonal relations, social
skills development, and academic achievement. Many
studies helped to elucidate these findings and provide
researchers with a pathway through which we can begin
to examine the long-term effects of the pandemic. We
now know that depending on the variable (i.e., mental
health, academic achievement, and the like), the effects
will vary depending on age during the pandemic, socioeconomic
influences, and access to mental health care. It
would behoove researchers to adopt a biopsychosocial-economic-cultural
lens while examining these variables.
Both the mental health and academic communities should
be identifying evidence-based interventions for those who
are at-risk and most impacted and begin to develop innovative ways to
deliver services and instruction at the earliest
possible time. Hopefully, should something like this occur
again, we will not only be better prepared to anticipate the
difficulties that children and adolescents face in the context of
social isolation and decreased access to academic
instruction, but also have the resources and mechanisms
in place to intervene early.”

Please call our office if you would like a consultation or have any questions regarding your child or adolescent.


Dr. Steven Greco Presents at Academy of Allied Health and Sciences (AAHS)

NRS|LS acknowledges Dr. Steven Greco’s presentation on Brain Health on 4/12/24.  Dr. Greco presented for Wellness Day at the Academy of Allied Health and Sciences (AAHS).   Dr. Greco’s presentation focused on how the field of neuropsychology is a critical aspect in understanding and improving brain health.  Dr. Greco reviewed the recent literature about supplements and their effects on the brain, neurogenesis, case presentation, and presented on current trends improving brain health.    NRS|LS is an affiliated organization with AAHS and Dr. Greco has served as a mentor for the students at AAHS.

If you would like more information about Dr. Greco’s presentation, please call 732-988-3441.

Dr. Steven Greco is a board certified neuropsychologist serving Monmouth County for 20 years.  He specializes in clinical treatment and is a clinical professor in the department of neurology at Hackensack Meridian Health, Jersey Shore campus.

ADHD vs Autism in Children

With continued research and more information published, we are learning that ADHD and autism have many overlapping characteristics, especially in children. Though the two are very different neurological disorders, there are many attributes that children present that could easily be mistaken as one of the two conditions. However, small nuances may allude to the other conditions. It is also very common for children to have both ADHD and autism together, but there are certain signs to differentiate what the child might be dealing with.

Similarities between ADHD and Autism:

  • Attention difficulties – Children with ADHD have trouble paying attention or holding attention, and children with autism struggle to pay attention when they lack interest in something.
  • Hyper Behavior – Children with ADHD typically struggle to sit still and are constantly moving, and children with autism are often seen stimming, or creating self-stimulation with repetitive, rapid movements.
  • Impulsivity – Children with ADHD will often talk over others, interrupt, and act without thinking, and children with autism may interrupt, say inappropriate things at inappropriate times, and lack self-regulation tactics.

Characteristics more specific to ADHD:

  • Fidgeting
  • Hyperactivity/inability to sit still
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Acting/speaking without thinking
  • Easily distracted by different stimuli


Characteristics more specific to Autism:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Lack of social reciprocity
  • Highly fixated interests
  • Sensory-seeking behavior/sensory sensitivity
  • Scripting/repeating phrases, words, and/or songs on a consistent basis


Though the characteristics listed to differentiate the two are strong indicators of what a child might be dealing with, there is still high likelihood of overlap. Some of the signs might not be as prevalent as others, and it may be difficult to realize certain behaviors when they are viewed often in everyday life. If you feel your child may be presenting any of these issues, schedule a consultation with our office and let our professionals provide your child with the tools they need to excel.


Joshua Tice
Psychometrician and Behavioral Technician


Protective Factors of Marriage in Dementia

The US statistics indicate that married people have a lower risk of developing dementia than adults who were never married, cohabited, divorced, or widowed. The reasons include the benefits of a close relationship for stimulating thinking abilities, reduced engagement in unhealthy behaviors, and higher income. Marriage also results in better social support and serves as a buffer against loneliness and related anxiety and depression. However, even when one spouse develops dementia, a strong marital relationship benefits both the patient and the caregiving spouse.

For instance, strong marriages help patients with dementia remain at home longer and transfer to a nursing facility at a later stage of the disease, while healthy spouses experience a reduced caregiver burden. Social support from a caregiving spouse and access to social support systems in the community because of the marriage can help slow cognitive decline in the spouse with dementia. Thus, focusing on maintaining a close relationship and the quality of life together is essential for individuals with dementia and their spouses.

Multiple factors contribute to maintaining a strong marriage while dealing with dementia-related problems. A history of communicating with each other with respect and helping each other during challenging times is a good predictor of better communication when one of the spouses develops dementia. Looking at dementia-related problems as a shared experience based on mutual commitment versus a healthy spouse focusing predominantly on the caregiving burdens benefits the patient and helps reduce the caregiver burden. Access to activities that can still be enjoyed together, staying connected with close and extended families, and participation in counseling and support groups also help preserve the relationship and its benefits.

At NRS|Lifespan, caregivers can learn strategies to adjust to dementia-related symptoms in their family members as part of Medical Adjustment Counseling®.

If you have any questions, give call our office.


Eleonora Gallagher, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist #7297
Neuropsychology Post-Doctoral Fellow







Congratulations Dr. Greco for his recent publication in the American Academy of Pediatric Neuropsychology! 

Introduction: TAND is an autosomal dominant
disorder from mutations in either the TSC1 or TSC2
genes. These genes are responsible for encoding
hamartin and tuberin, respectively, and are proteins
which function as tumor suppressors. TAND causes
the growth of benign tumors on the brain and across
other parts of the body, such as the spinal cord, eyes,
heart, and kidneys.
Objective: To reintroduce Tuberous Sclerosis
Complex as TAND, from a comprehensive
biopsychosocial perspective.
The acronym TAND was introduced in 2012 to unify
the neurobiological, psychological, and social aspects
of Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, and to encapsulate
all possible functional manifestations, complications,
and consequences as they relate to
neurodevelopmental, neurocognitive,
neurobehavioral, and a host of adaptive abilities.
Furthermore, to discuss the neuropsychological
analysis of differentiating co-occurring conditions as
a result of TAND.
Method: This patient is a 5-year-old, Caucasian,
right-handed female who was referred by her
neurologist as a result of delayed speech and
difficulties with fine motor, short-term memory, and
The patient continues to experience uncontrolled
seizures. A cerebral MRI was noteworthy for
“multiple benign tumors.” Diagnostic clarity was
recommended to differentiate this child’s
neuropsychological strengths and weaknesses.
Initial diagnostic impression was consistent with
ADHD (acquired), and diffuse neuropsychological
impairment secondary to TAND.
Results: This patient was administered the Reitan
Indiana Neuropsychological Battery.
Neuropsychological test results were consistent with
deficits in attention, visual spatial analysis,
receptive-expressive language, and gross/fine motor
Conclusion: Patients with TAND commonly develop
neurological symptoms. These include: epilepsy,
autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities,
attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, mood
disorders, anxiety, sleep disorders, and other
behavioral problems.

Steven P. Greco, PhD, ABN


Individuals sustaining cerebral anoxia, hypoxia, or an associated anoxic encephalopathy, often experience a myriad of neurocognitive, neurobehavioral, and adaptive changes/limitations.  Cerebral anoxia occurs following oxygen deprivation to the brain.  The extent and duration of potential deficits are contingent upon a specific etiology and period of oxygen deprivation.

Most noteworthy causes of cerebral anoxia occur following cardiac arrest (e.g., heart attack), as well as cerebrovascular accidents (e.g., stroke), drug overdose, near drowning, strangulation, electrocution, and adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) are other potential contributing events.

The pathophysiology of cerebral anoxia is such that generalized cognitive deficits occur; this is the result of reduced blood flow and oxygenation to the entire brain and not one specific area.  Cerebral anoxia is due to oxygen deprivation and hypoventilation as noted above.  Physiological and neurochemical changes occur especially with regard to the cessation of blood flow and results in general circulatory collapse.  Immediate loss of consciousness may occur within seconds which is often accompanied by severe brain trauma.  Areas of the brain most vulnerable to damage are those that require sustained oxygenation.  In part, the hippocampus, cerebellar cortex, parieto-occipital cortex, and bifrontal regions are most susceptible.  Clinically, symptoms often manifest with cortical blindness, extrapyramidal involvement, cerebellar ataxia, and profound amnesia (e.g., memory impairment).

Initially, individuals are treated by multi-specialty physicians including, but not limited to cardiologists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, physiatrists, pulmonologists, to name a few.  Often patients require both inpatient acute hospitalization and rehabilitation.  Inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation is generally provided by a multi-disciplinary team including physical, occupational, speech, and respiratory therapists.  Nutritional and psychological support is often part of the rehabilitation team.  Furthermore, neuropsychological consultation is required throughout the patient’s treatment to monitor the individuals’ neurocognitive strengths, weaknesses, and overall level of adaptive functioning.  Serial neuropsychological evaluations, possibly completed at 3-6 months intervals, is imperative to assist the medical specialists, patient, and family members in developing additional diagnostic impressions and treatment recommendations.

From a neuropsychological perspective, patients, as described above, often demonstrate a myriad of neurocognitive and neurobehavioral difficulties on formal neuropsychological assessment.  Primary deficits may include:

·        Recent/delayed memory (often profound)

·        Sustained levels of attention/concentration

·        Executive dysfunction

·        Language difficulties

·        Slowed processing speed

·        Sensorimotor limitations

·        Disorientation

Within the realm of neurobehavioral alterations, patients are often described as having noteworthy personality changes including, frustration, impulsivity, restlessness, indifference, amotivation, and emotional lability.  Often these individuals experience organically induced depression (organic affective disorder/frontal lobe syndrome) as well as variable levels of anxiety.  When diagnosed, psychiatric and psychological consultation and treatment is imperative.

In summary, the effects of cerebral anoxia is multifaceted based on an array of potential causes and clinical manifestations (e.g., physical, neurocognitive, neurobehavioral).  Treatment is often prolonged at the acute and post-acute stages, frequently warranting both inpatient and outpatient brain injury rehabilitation.  Serial neuropsychological assessment is often recommended to assist in the monitoring of the patient’s overall level of adaptive functioning.

For additional information or a clinical consultation regarding the consequences of cerebral anoxia, please contact our office at 732-988-3441.


Michael J. Raymond, Ph.D., ABN, FACPN
Board Certified Neuropsychologist #232
Licensed Psychologist #35S100252900

Learning Disabilities in Children: The Importance of Neuropsychological Evaluation

Learning disabilities are neurodevelopmental conditions that are characterized by impairments in reading, written expression, and mathematics. Specific skills that may be impacted by learning disabilities are word reading accuracy, reading fluency and comprehension, spelling, grammar, and math calculation. Impairment in these skills often goes unnoticed until a child reaches school age, where these skills begin to be utilized. During this period, early intervention is critical to providing children with learning disabilities with the assistance and support that they need to guide their education.

Following the identification of learning-related difficulties, the child and family would benefit from seeking out a neuropsychological examination (NPE) in order to receive diagnostic clarification, recommendations, and a treatment plan. The NPE is able to identify the child’s strengths and weaknesses relating to their academic achievement, along with pinpointing criteria that align with a learning disability. Additionally, if abilities are within the normal range, those at NRS|LS will be able to confidently conclude this as well. If a learning disability is diagnosed, the results of the NPE should be utilized by the child’s school and special services team to begin implementing individualized instruction and accommodations. These interventions are highly beneficial for children, as they can improve the child’s schoolwork and possible behavioral-related difficulties.

If you are concerned about your child having a learning disability, please call our office for a consultation.

Gianna Scimemi, M.A.