Hocking Laboratory for Behavioral Oncology Research

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Researchers in the Hocking Lab work to better understand the neurodevelopmental consequences of having survived childhood cancer or having neurofibromatosis type 1, to identify those who are most at risk for poor outcomes, and to intervene in order to improve quality of life.

The Hocking Lab focuses on determining the risk and resilience factors associated with the neurodevelopmental outcomes of children and young adults diagnosed with brain tumors and neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). The long-term goal of this work is to enhance functional outcomes and overall quality of life for pediatric cancer survivors and their families.

One study funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is assessing the social connectedness and well-being among survivors of malignant and non-malignant brain tumors, and evaluating the risk and mechanistic factors that influence social connectedness over time. Findings will advance our understanding of the importance of social connectedness in pediatric brain cancer survivorship and inform the development of effective interventions that target mechanistic factors. This study represents an ongoing collaboration with researchers from the Center for Autism Research at CHOP and uses eye-tracking technology and neuroimaging approaches to identify brain-related mechanisms for survivor social problems.

Another NCI-funded study is a collaboration with Nationwide Children's Hospital and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and focuses on the cognitive and psychosocial functioning of children treated for cancer at a young age. The project goals are to understand the nature of psychosocial late effects in young cancer survivors and identify early risk and protective factors that contribute to long-term adaptation.

Other current studies include testing the effects of an app-based attentional control intervention in survivors of childhood cancer affected by central nervous system disease and studying the social competence of youth with NF1.

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Research Highlights