What is neuropsychological assessment?
Neuropsychological assessment is an approach to testing based on an appreciation of functional neuroanatomy and brain development. Unlike CT or MRI scans, which show how the structure of the brain looks, neuropsychological testing examines how well the brain is working when it performs certain tasks (i.e., learning new information, memory, problem solving). A neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist with specialized training that includes education in brain anatomy, brain function, and brain injury or disease.
What is assessed in a neuropsypchological evaluation?
A neuropsychological evaluation includes a clinical history, behavioral observations, and tests in the following areas:
Intelligence Problem solving and conceptualization
Visual-spatial functions Language functions
Sensory-perceptual functions Motor functioning
Academic skills Memory and learning
Planning and organization Emotions, behavior, and personality
Attention and concentration Motivation
What can be gained from having a neuropsychological evaluation?
The product or outcome of a neuropsychological evaluation provides information about the individual’s functioning. It includes specific recommendations to guide treatment and to enhance one’s quality of life. There are several ways that test results are used including:
- The test results can be used to confirm or clarify a diagnosis.
- Provide a profile of strengths or weaknesses to guide rehabilitation, educational, vocational, or other services.
- Document changes in functioning since prior examinations, including effects of treatment.
- Result in referrals to other specialists, such as educational therapists, neurologists, psychiatrists, vocational counselors, speech and language therapists, special education teachers, or counseling therapists.
When should a neuropsychological assessment be considered?
- When there is a history of known of suspected brain injury.
- When cognitive and/or behavioral problems are exhibited or suspected.
- When there is a history of genetic disorders or neurodevelopmental disorders that may impact on brain development.
- In the context of medical problems such as a seizure disorder, stroke, cerebral palsy, tumors, dementia, and multiple sclerosis.
- When previous evaluations have been conducted, but more in-depth assessment is indicated.