What Is Neuropsychology and How Can It Be Helpful?
Neuropsychology is the study of brain-behavior relationships. Clinical neuropsychologists apply this knowledge to the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of patients with neurological, psychiatric, or other medical conditions. Neuropsychologists gather a range of information about each patient, including a detailed history and measures of cognitive and behavioral functioning. This information is obtained by review of past medical records, an interview with the patient and family, and direct patient assessment. The neuropsychological assessment may yield findings not observable using other techniques, such as brain imaging or gross neurological examination. The information obtained by a neuropsychological evaluation can be instrumental in helping the patient and family cope better with existing behaviors and symptoms.
Often, patients are referred for neuropsychological assessment by other medical professionals, such as neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and primary care physicians, or they may be self-referred.
Who Should Seek a Neuropsychological Evaluation?
If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, a neuropsychological evaluation should be considered:
- Have there been changes or concern about memory or other cognitive functions?
- Is there a change or concern about the ability to perform tasks at home or at work?
- Is there a change or concern about behavior that affects relationships or daily living?
- Are medications being taken that may be facilitating or impairing cognitive or behavioral functioning?
- Has another medical professional recommended a neuropsychological evaluation?
- Is there a change in personality?
Prior to the first scheduled appointment:
Specialized clinicians will request and review all relevant medical reports, including, but not limited to, neurological, radiological, psychiatric, psychological, and general medical records. Our neuropsychologist will also ask that detailed questionnaires about the patient’s history be completed. Having this information in advance allows for better use of the appointment time and enables our clinicians to develop an appropriate cognitive test battery.
Our clinicians will begin by meeting with the patient and, if the patient agrees, a family member or close friend. At this time, we will ask the patient to explain what has been happening in his/her life that has led to the neuropsychological evaluation. With the patient’s permission, our clinicians will also ask for input from the family.
Behavioral and cognitive testing:
The patient will be evaluated alone using a battery of neuropsychological tests, which may include assessments of mood and other behavioral symptoms, as well as cognitive tests of memory, attention, language, reasoning, visual, and other skills. It is important that the patient be well rested, nourished, and equipped with any necessary hearing aides or visual aides, such as glasses or contact lenses.
Our specialized clinicians will compose a detailed report, including a summary of the history and neuropsychological test results, as well as proposed diagnoses, treatment plans, and recommendations. We will review the information contained in this report with the patient and family (if appropriate) at a scheduled feedback session. Our staff will send copies of the report to other medical professionals and seek to integrate care, as requested by the patient.
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