Clinical Neuropsychology is a sub-specialty of clinical psychology focused on brain-behavior relationships. Clinical Neuropsychologists are licensed psychologists with specialized training in the assessment of evident or suspected cognitive, behavioral, and emotional changes associated with neurodevelopmental, neurodegenerative, or acquired disorders of the brain. Typical diagnoses assessed include but are not limited to:
- Brain Injury
- Dementia / Degenerative Disorders
- Seizure disorders
- Multiple sclerosis
- Brain Tumors
- Neurotoxin exposure
What is a Neuropsychological Evaluation? A neuropsychological evaluation involves assessment via a group of standardized tests that are sensitive to the effects of brain dysfunction. 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.
What tests are used? Tests are typically paper and pencil or computerized and are used to assess the following areas of cognition (thinking): attention and memory, problem-solving and other complex abilities, visual-spatial functions, speed and language functions, sensory perceptual functions, and motor functions. An interview and an assessment of emotional functioning are typically performed as well.
What is the purpose of a Neuropsychological Evaluation? Neuropsychological evaluations are conducted for various reasons including: 1) assessing for possible problems with brain functioning, 2) assisting with diagnosis, 3) defining brain-related strengths and weaknesses, 4) guiding treatment for personal, educational, or vocational needs, 5) making relevant recommendations to health care providers and caregivers, 6) documenting possible changes in cognition over time.
What is the outcome? After the evaluation a comprehensive report is generated summarizing findings, including recommendations for treatment. A feedback session with the patient and family may also be arranged.
*Information adapted from National Academy of Neuropsychology (www.nanonline.org).