A neuropsychological evaluation is a comprehensive assessment of cognitive and behavioral functions using a set of standardized tests and procedures. Various mental functions are systematically tested, which may include but are not limited to:
- Problem solving and conceptualization
- Planning and organization
- Attention, memory, and learning
- Academic skills
- Perceptual and motor abilities
- Emotions, behavior, and personality
Who is qualified to conduct a neuropsychological evaluation?
A neuropsychological evaluation is done by a psychologist who has had specialized training and experience in the field, which include:
- Predoctoral training in psychology and neuropsychology
- Formal postdoctoral training focusing on brain-behavior relationships and neuropsychological assessment.
When is neuropsychological evaluation needed?
A neuropsychological evaluation is recommended for any case in which brain-based impairment in cognitive function or behavior is suspected. Typical referrals are made to diagnose or rule out the following conditions, and to describe their impact on a person’s cognitive functioning:
- Asperger’s Syndrome
- Developmental learning disabilities
- Attention deficit disorders
- Traumatic brain injury
- Psychiatric or neuropsychiatric disorders
- Seizure disorders
- Medical illness or treatments
- Effects of toxic chemicals or chronic substance abuse
- Memory Disorders (e.g., Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, etc.)
A neuropsychological evaluation is particularly useful for tracking progress in rehabilitation after brain injury or other neurological disease. Neuropsychological evaluation can assist greatly in planning educational and vocational programs. It can also be invaluable for disability determination or for forensic (legal) purposes.
Are all neuropsychological evaluations the same?
No. A neuropsychological evaluation is not a fixed series of tests that anyone can give. Specialized training allows the neuropsychologist to select, administer, and interpret the particular tests and procedures that will yield the most comprehensive understanding of an individual’s strengths and weaknesses. Each neuropsychological examination is tailored to the needs of the individual client.
What is an exam like?
Generally, a neuropsychological evaluation involves a wide variety of tasks, most of which are done sitting at a table or at bedside in a hospital. There are no invasive procedures, no pain, no needles, or electrodes. The evaluation often takes 4 to 6 hours of face-to-face contact, but can vary widely depending on what information is being sought. The evaluation can be scheduled in a single appointment or in a series of appointments.
For every hour the doctor spends completing direct testing she spends approximately one hour scoring and interpreting the results and preparing a report. Generally, the doctor will offer you a 45-55 minute feedback session to review the results 2-4 weeks after the completion of the testing. After reviewing the results with you a report is drafted that is provided to you and can be sent to a physician, school, or other professional at your request. Additional consultation can be requested.
How are the test results used?
That depends on the reason for the evaluation. Neuropsychological evaluations may:
- Confirm or clarify a diagnosis
- Provide a profile of strengths and weaknesses to guide rehabilitation, education, vocational, or other services.
- Document changes in functioning since prior examinations, including effects of treatment.
- Clarify what compensatory strategies would help.
- May result in referrals to other specialists, such as educational therapists, cognitive rehabilitation professionals, neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses, special education teachers, or vocational counselors.
Preschool and Infant Neuropsychological Testing
The Preschool and Infant Neuropsychological Testing (PINT) clinic at Child & Family Psychological Services, Inc. offers comprehensive neuropsychological evaluations for children aged 1-4. More information about PINT…