Clinical neuropsychology is a specialty of psychology that focuses on brain function.
A neuropsychologist has a doctoral degree in psychology and additional specialized training in brain anatomy, brain function, and brain injury and disease.
Neuropsychological evaluations are conducted to assist physicians, patients, and their families in the diagnosis and treatment of difficulties or changes in thinking, memory, language, mood, and personality. A neuropsychological evaluation can:
- Confirm or clarify a diagnosis, such as type of dementia
- Characterize preserved and deficient abilities after stroke or injury
- Answer questions about capacity for return to work and/or decision making
- Assist physicians in development of a treatment plan, including selection of medications, planning for surgery, and decisions about therapy and rehabilitation
- Establish a baseline of functioning prior to brain surgery, whole brain radiation, and/or starting of a new medication or treatment plan
What to expect during testing
A neuropsychological evaluation usually consists of an interview with the clinical neuropsychologist, and then testing, at times by a specially-trained technician. During the interview, the patient may be asked about their symptoms, medical history, medications, and other information that is important in addressing cognitive concerns. Testing involves taking standardized paper and pencil or computerized tests and answering questions. The length of the examination will depend on the problem being assessed. In general, evaluations last 3 to 6 hours, and testing usually is paid for by insurance.
Reasons for Referral
Changes in thinking and behavior may be due to any number of medical, neurological, psychological, or developmental causes, including dementia, stroke, head injury, chronic heart and pulmonary diseases, liver failure, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral aneurysm, brain tumor, depression, psychosis, learning disability, attention deficit disorders, sleep disorders, and/or the effects of medication, medical treatments, and brain surgery.
Healthcare providers might consider referring for a neuropsychological evaluation if patients and/or their family members express concerns about:
- Memory and increasing forgetfulness
- Tendency to repeat self and ask repetitive questions
- Attention and concentration
- Changes in work or school performance
- Changes in spending habits and/or new problems with managing finances
- Changes in driving skills, visuoperceptual or visuospatial abilities
- Difficulty with organizing, planning, multitasking or communicating
- Increased impulsivity, outspokenness, or other inappropriate behaviors
- Lack of motivation
- Significant fatigue without apparent physical disease
- Changes in thinking and history of chronic physical disease, pain, stroke, head injury, chemotherapy, radiation, sports concussion, anoxia, and/or brain surgery
Neuropsychological Evaluations include a detailed clinical interview, review of relevant records, and the administration of a wide variety of paper-pencil and computer-based tests.
To obtain a neuropsychological assessment, you will need a doctor's referral. To schedule a neuropsychological assessment, please call (402) 572-2169.