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About Sickkids
About SickKids

Mary Lou Smith, PhD, CPsych

The Hospital for Sick Children

Research Institute
Senior Associate Scientist
Neurosciences & Mental Health

University of Toronto

Phone: 416-813-6771
Fax: 416-813-8839
Email: marylou.smith@sickkids.ca

Brief Biography

Dr. Smith received a PhD in Clinical Psychology from McGill University in 1985. She received clinical and research training at the Montreal Neurological Hospital and Institute, and at the Montreal Children's Hospital. She is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. She has been a member of the Neuropsychology section of the Diagnostic Strategies Commission of the International League against Epilepsy, and a member of the steering committees of the Canadian Pediatric Epilepsy Network and the University of Toronto Epilepsy Research Program.

Research Interests

Behavioural and neuropsychological correlates of central nervous system dysfunction during development.

Research Activities

Over the past several years, Dr. Smith's major area of research has been on the cognitive and behavioural co-morbidities associated with epilepsy. Her work has addressed these topics from a number of perspectives, including the clinical nature of intractable epilepsy, and theoretical issues for understanding early brain dysfunction. The work also contains important implications for clinical treatment decisions and expectations for the impact of treatments. These studies have involved individuals with intractable seizures with onset in childhood, although different projects had targeted individuals of different ages, ranging from 6 to 30 years. Much of this work has been conducted in a collaborative context with colleagues from neurology, psychology, nursing, and social work. The studies have addressed four major areas: quality of life, surgical outcome, plasticity of language representation, and memory.

In another line of research focused on determining the nature, frequency and correlates of psychological impairment arising from infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Dr. Smith is monitoring the developmental, behavioural and cognitive status of children born with HIV. She is also investigating the development of children who have in utero exposure to antiretroviral drugs.

External Funding

  • 2010-2015; Co-I: CIHR (with MJ Taylor (PI), E Anagnostou, J. Lerch): Longitudinal study of brain mechanisms underlying visual working memory in children with autism.
  • 2011-2015; Co-I: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (with  Speechley (PI), C. Camfield, M. Ferro, S. Levin. S. Wiebe, G. Zho).  Health-related Quality of Life in Children with New-Onset Epilepsy: A Long-term Follow-up.
  • 2012-2013; PI– Ontario Brain Institute. Long-term Outcomes of Pediatric Epilepsy Surgery; sub project in Integrated Discovery System for Epilepsy (New Approaches to Intractable Seizures).
  • 2012-2014; PI - CANFAR (with S. Read & A. Bitnun). Neurodevelopmental outcomes of pre- and peri-natal exposure to antiretroviral treatment in HIV-uninfected children.


Engle J, Smith ML. Attention and material-specific memory in children with lateralized epilepsy. Neuropsychologia, 2010, 48, 38-42.

Hum KM, Smith ML, Lach L, Elliott IM.  Self-perceptions of social function two years after epilepsy surgery.  Epilepsy and Behavior, 2010, 17(3), 354-359.

Smith ML, Bigel M, Miller LA.  Visual paired associated learning in patients with temporal lobectomies: Search for material-specific effects.  Epilepsy and Behavior, 2011, 20, 326-330.

Smith ML, Kelly K, Kadis DS, Elliott IM,  Olds J, Whiting S, Snyder T, Self-reported symptoms of psychological well-being in young adults who underwent respective epilepsy surgery in childhood.  Epilepsia, 2011, 52(5):891–899.

Smith ML, Lah S. One declarative memory system or two? The relationship between episodic and semantic memory in children with temporal lobe epilepsy.  Neuropsychology, 2011, 25(5), 634-644.

Hung Y, Smith ML, Taylor M.  Development of ACC-amygdala activations in processing unattended fear. Neuroimage, 2012, 60, 545-552

Widjaja E, Snead OC, Zarei S, Chuang S, Raybaud C, Smith ML. Reduced cortical thickness in children with new-onset seizures.  American Journal of Neuroradiology, 2012 Apr;33(4):673-7.

Jones-Gotman M, Smith ML, Risse GL, Westerveld M, Swanson SJ, Giovagnoli AR, Lee T, Mader-Joaquim MJ, Piazzini A. The contribution of neuropsychology to diagnostic assessment in epilepsy. Epilepsy and Behavior, 2010, 18, 3-12.

Smith ML, Direnfeld E.  Memory in children with epilepsy.  In A. Zeman, N. Kapur, M. Jones-Gotman (Eds.).  Epilepsy and Memory.  Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 102-113.

Speechley, KN,  Ferro MA, Camfield C,  Huang W, Levin SB,  Smith ML, Wiebe S, Zou, G.  Quality of life in children with new-onset epilepsy: A two year prospective cohort study. Neurology, in press.