Faculty Directory

Donald Jay Bearden, PhD

Donald Bearden headshot

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

Assistant Professor (Adjunct),
Department of Neurology,
Emory University School of Medicine

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PHONE: 404-785-5357
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My varied undergraduate and graduate research and clinical experiences culminated in an interest in pediatric neuropsychology with a focus in neurodevelopmental disorders. During my undergraduate training, those experiences included working with researchers who were investigating how neural integration of hormonal and social cues generated sexual attraction and preference in male hamsters, studying brain-region activation in individuals with autism spectrum disorder using fMRI and visual stimulation, and examining temporal relations between caregiver-infant interactions during routine immunizations.

I began my graduate career with an interest in pediatric pain. For my master’s thesis, I investigated parents’ knowledge and behavior during their children’s immunizations following computerized training. Simultaneously, I served as a research assistant in neuropsychology for Dr. Thomas Burns at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) investigating neuropsychological performance in youths with sickle cell disease (SCD). For my dissertation, I sought to integrate my pediatric pain and neuropsychology interests and experiences. I examined associations among pain-crisis frequency, anxiety, and aspects of executive function in youth with SCD. Later, as a fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital I continued to engage in research that integrated my pediatric pain and neuropsychology interests, examining neuropsychological profiles in children and adolescents with functional abdominal pain.

More recently, my research interest has taken a new direction—borne out of my clinical experiences working with neurologically compromised pediatric patients during internship and fellowship. As a pediatric neuropsychologist at CHOA, I look forward to pursuing my research interests exploring neuroimaging, neurodevelopmental, and neurocognitive issues, and neurogenetics in young people with neurodevelopmental disorders.


  • pediatric neuropsychology
  • neurodevelopmental disorders
  • pediatric pain
  • neuroimaging
  • neurodevelopmental issues 
  • neurocognitive issues
  • neurogenetics 
  • neurodevelopmental disorders

Research Center(s)