Neuropsychological Test: Everything You Need To Know
A neuropsychological test is a test to measure how well a person’s brain is performing at a baseline, or after a traumatic injury. The abilities tested include reading and understanding, language comprehension, attention span, learning and processing speed, reasoning, remembering, problem-solving, mood level, personality, and more.
The team of experts at My Psychiatrist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of a broad range of psychological and neurological conditions. This testing method allows us to gain a greater understanding of the inner workings of your brain. With this information, we can build out a more personalized treatment regimen that will offer you the greatest potential benefits. At My Psychiatrist, we offer a few different types of tests that include:
What is Neuropsychology?
Neuropsychology involves determining how well the brain is working before or after it has been affected by a brain injury or psychological disorder. A neuropsychological test screens for a comprehensive list of cognitive functions including behavior and many more.
What Mental Functions are Assessed in a Neuropsychological Test?
If you are undergoing a neuropsychological assessment, the cognitive functions tested include:
- General intellect
- Reading/reading comprehension
- Language usage and understanding of what others say
- Processing speed
- Learning and memory
- Executive functions, higher-level skills such as:
- Organization and planning
- Time management
- Making judgments
- Maintaining self-control
- Visuospatial skills
- Motor speed and dexterity
- Mood and personality
Reasons To Request A Test
A neuropsychological test can be performed for a variety of reasons, including:
- To help pinpoint your diagnosis: Test results are sometimes used to help identify the source of your condition. Your healthcare provider can then use the results along with the results of other tests to build out a complete assessment of your health profile, such as:
- Brain scans
- Blood tests
- To identify your cognitive strengths and weaknesses: your specialist may indicate the need for tests if you’ve sustained an injury or neurological trauma, such as a stroke or traumatic brain injury. This helps to isolate which cognitive functions have been affected and to what degree.
- To establish a baseline record: A test may be conducted before/after surgical treatment to determine if cognitive abilities were affected at all. This baseline test sets the benchmark for future tests, to show if there have been any changes or damage.
- To help plan treatment: Test results can help doctors identify the focus of your rehabilitation program. The evaluation can determine the skills you need to work on, that are most important to you and allow you to sustain your livelihood.
If I’ve Never Had an Exam, How Will I Know if my Cognitive Abilities Have Changed?
Some cognitive abilities tend to be very stable despite neurologic illnesses, which provide an estimate of the normal level of your other cognitive abilities. Your results can also be norm-compared to help fill in some of the missing information.
The important part is that you have decided to get tested and this first test can now serve as the benchmark on which you hope to improve and measure against in the future.
Common Symptoms That Signal the Need for Testing
Visit your specialist for a neuropsychological test if you or a loved one exhibit any of the following signs:
- Worsening short-term memory
- General confusion, difficultly recognizing familiar people
- Poor attention and concentration
- Difficulty communicating
- Visuospatial difficulties include difficulty drawing or using a map.
- Poor judgment/decision-making.
- An unexplained change in personality.
What Does a Neuropsychological Test Involve?
- You will have an open discussion with your specialist, to understand any concerns you or your family might have about your cognitive health and function. They will also review your personal history, which includes medical, psychological. and educational background. Your specialist may also request to interview any family member who comes to the evaluation with you, to gain a more complete picture of your regular abilities.
- The test may involve writing or drawing, solving puzzles, answering questions, and responding to images on a screen.
- Some of the tests may be quite easy and you may find others to be difficult. It is important to give your full effort as the results can shape the outlook of your treatment.
- You may also be asked to fill out personal questionnaires about your mood and psychological symptoms.
- Finally, your specialist writes a report, summarizing the results and recommendations for improving or protective cognitive ability and what next steps need to be taken. Your doctor will review your results with you and clearly define them.
How Long Does a Neuropsychological Test Take?
A test may last longer or shorter depending on your personal condition and needs, although two to four hours is typical. The duration is largely dependant on which tests need to be administered as well as your ability to complete the tests.
Preparing for the Neuropsychological Test
Here are a few tips to help ensure you perform your best on the day of the test
- Get a good night’s sleep.
- Eat a good breakfast.
- Take all of your normal medications – unless directed otherwise.
- If you need them – glasses, contact lenses, or hearing aids, make sure you have them with you.
- If you have records of previous health and neuropsychological testing, be sure to bring those records with you.
How Are My Test Results Determined?
Most of the tests are standardized, which means the same tests are provided to everyone. The tests may also be norm-referenced, which compares your results to those of other people who are near the same age and have a similar educational background. Your results can provide your doctor with a lot of information, as well as guide them towards the best therapy options for your unique case.
Neuropsychological Testing Available in Reston, Virginia
If you have questions or concerns about Neuropsychological testing, reach out to the specialists at My Psychiatrist today! Meet with our team of specialists for an initial consultation and take control of your cognitive health. As with most cognitive and traumatic injuries, early intervention provides the best therapy results.
Call our offices to speak with a member of our team or schedule a consultation online today!