The neuropsychologist also has specialized training in administering and interpreting the specific kinds of tests included in your neuropsychological evaluation. As a part of the required education, a neuropsychologist also has years of practical experience working with people who have had problems involving the brain. You can learn more about clinical neuropsychology from the National Academy of Neuropsychology website (www.NANonline.org).
- To find possible problems with your brain functioning
- To help lead to a diagnosis
- To determine how well your brain is functioning compared to others your same age and educational level
- To define your brain-related strengths and weaknesses
- To guide treatment for your personal, medical, educational or vocational needs, and make relevant recommendations to your other health care provider(s), or
- To document possible changes in your functioning over time.
A neuropsychological evaluation typically involves assessment (testing) with a group of standardized tests that are sensitive to the effects of brain dysfunction. Unlike CT or MRI scans which show abnormalities in the structure of the brain, or EEG, which shows electrical abnormalities in the brain, 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.
These functions or tasks (for example, memory and learning) form the necessary building blocks of successful living in the individual’s daily life.Impairment in many of these functions may exist because of brain abnormalities that cannot be detected on CT or MRI scans. Therefore, neuropsychological assessment is a procedure with a unique purpose; it can be used to reveal or diagnose brain dysfunction when no structural brain abnormalities can be seen. Furthermore, when structural abnormalities have been found, neuropsychological assessment provides a way to determine what functions may be impaired because of the structural defects, and to determine the degree to which they may be impaired.
• attention and memory,
• problem-solving and other complex abilities,
• visual-spatial functions,
• language functions,
• sensory perceptual functions,
• motor functions
Assessment of academic skill development and emotional functioning, while not exclusive to neuropsychological evaluation, is typically performed, as well. The perspective of the neuropsychologist is frequently requested to understand subtle brain-related factors involved in memory problems, academic failure or impaired emotional functioning, even when no biological causes are suspected. However, the specific areas assessed depend upon the referral questions presented. This type of examination can shed light on the nature of difficulty a person is experiencing and strategies for compensating for neuropsychological problems.