WHAT IS A NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT?
A neuropsychological assessment is an evaluation performed by a neuropsychologist to help understand your cognitive functioning. Most of the tests are paper and pencil; some are on the computer.
A neuropsychological evaluation typically involves assessment (testing) with a group of standardized tests that are sensitive to the effects of brain dysfunction. Unlike CT or MRI scans which show abnormalities in the structure of the brain, or EEG, which shows electrical abnormalities in the brain, neuropsychological assessment is used to show the ways in which a person can or cannot perform certain functions or tasks that are dependent upon brain activity. These functions or tasks (for example, memory and learning) form the necessary building blocks of successful living in the individual’s daily life. Impairment in many of these functions may exist because of brain abnormalities that cannot be detected on CT or MRI scans. Therefore, neuropsychological assessment is a procedure with a unique purpose; it can be used to reveal or diagnose brain dysfunction when no structural brain abnormalities can be seen. Furthermore, when structural abnormalities have been found, neuropsychological assessment provides a way to determine what functions may be impaired because of the structural defects, and to determine the degree to which they may be impaired.
WHAT IS A NEUROPSYCHOLOGIST?
A neuropsychologist is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in the area of brain-behavior relationships. Although a neuropsychologist has a doctorate in clinical psychology, he or she does not just focus on emotional problems. A neuropsychologist has 4000 hours of supervised training in the evaluation of cognitive functioning, along with classes in neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and neurology.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF AN EVALUATION?
The purpose of a neuropsychological evaluation is to obtain information about cognitive functioning and how it affects your daily life. This can help your physician to clarify a difficult diagnosis; to differentiate normal aging from the dementing process; to help guide treatment decisions; or to document changes in memory or thinking over time.
WHO SHOULD HAVE AN EVALUATION?
Patients see a neuropsychologist to evaluate a range of problems related to cognitive functioning. Areas of assessment may include:
- Memory problems
- Concentrations problems
- Attention difficulties
- Problems in thinking logically and clearly
- Problem making important decisions
- Language and learning difficulties
- Changes in personality
- Capacity to make legal, financial or medical decisions
- Monitoring of cognitive functioning in chronic illnesses such as
- Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s, stroke,
- Alzheimer’s, or other types of dementia.
WHAT IS THE OUTCOME OF AN EVALUATION?
The outcome of a neuropsychological evaluation is a conclusion or set of conclusions about an individual’s cognitive and emotional functioning in the form of a neuropsychological report. The report will also include recommendations which may be used by your physician to help guide treatment or enhance your functioning.
Adapted from the Neuropsychological Evaluation Brochure of the National Academy of Neuropsychology