Neuro Psychological Testing

Overall Description of Neuropsychological Evaluation:

The primary goal of a neuropsychological evaluation is to identify how an individual’s brain functions relative to mental and behavioral capacities. A neuropsychological evolution is a comprehensive psychological assessment that assesses a wide range of mental skills. For example, memory, language, problem-solving, reasoning, learning, and adaptive skills. While a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation will assess many areas, tests are often adapted to the specific needs of the client. They are often guided by a specific referral reason or by a general question of mental ability.

The evaluation generally includes a clinical interview, standardized tests that include both oral and written portions, record review, and collateral interviews with a close friend or loved one. They range in length depending on the individual but generally are between seven to eight hours including breaks. They can often be split over multiple sessions if needed.

Common reasons for a neuropsychological evaluation include:

  • Memory challenges
  • Difficulties with daily activities
  • Concerns with speech and language
  • Challenges with reasoning or judgement
  • Referral following a neurological injury (e.g., traumatic brain injury, diagnosis of dementia, neurodegenerative disease, stroke etc.).

Schools may also request a neuropsychological evaluation to help understand how an individual best learns and to identify barriers to learning.

Neuropsychological evaluations are recommended or independently sought for a number of reasons. An individual should discuss their need or interest in having a neuropsychological evaluation with a medical provider to ensure it is appropriate.  Please review our common questions section for additional details.

Common Questions

What Is a neuropsychological evaluation?

The primary goal of a neuropsychological evaluation is to identify how an individual’s brain functions relative to mental and behavioral capacities.  A neuropsychological evolution is a comprehensive psychological assessment that assesses a wide range of mental skills. These skills are generally broken into cognitive domains that include:

General Intelligence A general measure of how one thinks and problem solves.

Executive Functioning Higher-level skills including impulse control, problem-solving, judgement, reasoning, organization and planning, attention, and concentration.

Processing Speed The speed at which information can be understood and processed.

Language Word finding ability, understanding or organizing language, vocabulary, grammar, articulation, and verbal reasoning skills.

Memory and Learning Both short-term and long-term memory, visual and auditory memory skills, and the ability to learn novel information.

Sensorimotor Dexterity, motor speed, grip strength, fine and gross motor skills, sight, smell, touch, and motor coordination.

Visuospatial Ability to visually reason with concrete and abstract visual information, special awareness, visual construction, visual organization, and space-object relationships.

A neuropsychological evaluation may also include:

Adaptive functioning skills Include money management, self-care, hygiene, cooking, housekeeping, child/pet care, ability to work, and paying bills.

Socioemotional functioning General emotional regulation, ability to interact with others, and establish and maintain interpersonal relationships.

While a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation will assess all areas, tests are often adapted to the specific needs of the client, to a referral reason, or to a general question of mental ability.

What does it include?

Although adjusted based on the specific needs of a client, a neuropsychological evaluation generally includes several parts. Testing involves manipulating objects, answering questions, and a range of pencil and paper tasks. The client will be asked to write and draw at times, while providing only verbal responses at other times. The evaluation will also include a clinical interview. This is generally a verbal conversation that reviews the client’s history such development, mental health, medical, work, school, family, social, and daily routine. When available, the evaluator may review prior school and medical records. It is also common for the evaluator to talk with a close friend, spouse, or family member to better understand symptoms and functioning, or when the individual being evaluated is unable to provide information.

Who should have a neuropsychological evaluation?

Generally, a neuropsychological evaluation provides an understanding of an individual’s strengths and weaknesses across cognitive skills. Neuropsychological evaluations are recommended or independently sought for a number of reasons. An individual should discuss their need or interest in having a neuropsychological evaluation with a medical provider to ensure it is appropriate.  Typical reasons include:

  • To help with diagnoses such as trying to identify if changes in mental abilities are the cause of natural processes or a neuropsychological/neurological disorder. Individuals who notice large changes in their ability across any of the prior areas should talk with a medical provider to see if a neuropsychological evolution is appropriate.
  • Other individuals may use a neuropsychological evaluation to understand their baseline of performance across cognitive skill sets. Results include finding both strengths and weaknesses across a variety of skills.
  • Schools often request neuropsychological evaluations for a comprehensive understanding of how an individual best learns and to identify any barriers to learning.
  • Those who have sustained a brain injury (e.g., concussions, traumatic brain injury, lost consciousness in an accident, stroke, drug induced brain damage) may independently seek an evaluation or be referred to a neuropsychologist by a treating physician. This generally includes identifying areas that may have been impacted by the injury and for neurorehabilitation.
  • Individuals who have known or recently been diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease such as many forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or Huntington’s disease. Evaluations are used to assess current functioning and to monitor mental capacities overtime. They are often recommended annually.
  • Anyone curious about their general abilities including personal strengths and weaknesses.

How long are they?

The length of neuropsychological evaluation depends on individual performance and ability but generally takes between seven and eight hours. This time includes breaks when needed and for food. The test can also be split across multiple sessions when needed.

What do the results look like?

Results of a neuropsychological evaluation identify both areas of strength and weakness. They often include recommendations on coping strategies and supports that may help an individual overcome or minimize the impact of the identified weaknesses. In the event a neuropsychological and psychological disorder is present, the evaluation will often provide a diagnosis. Recommendations may also include referrals to organizations or other professionals, providing general information about disorders, and providing information on support services. Furthermore, recommendations are also used to help support neurorehabilitation efforts and caretakers in understanding the best approach to care. Results are generally provided in a written report.

What are some common reasons for a neuropsychological evaluation?

Evaluations are often sought following an individual’s or loved one’s awareness of a change in mental ability across one or more of the previously mentioned areas.

An evaluation may also be recommended by a medical doctor following a known brain injury such as a concussion, stroke, brain surgery or following a diagnosis of a neurodegenerative disease such as dementia, Huntington’s disease, or Parkinson’s disease.

Schools may also request a neuropsychological evaluation to help understand how an individual best learns and to identify barriers to learning.

Do I need a referral for a neuropsychological evaluation?

No, while many neuropsychological evaluations are recommended by a medical professional following a neurological injury (e.g., stroke, traumatic brain injury, drug induced damage) or following a diagnosis of a neurodegenerative disease (i.e., dementias, Parkinson’s disease, or Huntington’s disease) an individual may seek a neuropsychological evolution independently.

It is recommended that the individual seeking the evaluation talk with the medical provider to assure that a neuropsychological evaluation is appropriate for their question or concern.

Is there a way to prepare for the evaluation?

Yes, there are a number of relatively easy considerations and steps an individual can take to make the neuropsychological processes smoother.

  • Have a good night’s sleep the night before and eat a healthy breakfast the day of the evaluation to ensure the brain is relaxed and energized.
  • Be sure to take any medications that are prescribed and typical to your daily routine. Be ready to provide a list of medications and doses.
  • Have any relevant medical or school records available.
  • Be sure to bring any supportive devices such as hearing aids, glasses etc.
  • If applicable any previous psychological evaluations conducted.
  • Ensure that motivation is high and that solid effort is given for the full evaluation.

The individual being evaluated should not think of the evaluation as “pass” or “fail” as the evaluation cannot be passed or failed. Rather, the evaluation is a reflection of the individual’s abilities relative to peers.

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For

your convenience:

Forms

When you arrive at our clinic for the first time you will be required to fill out several forms. To expedite your waiting time you may choose to complete these before your appointment and bring with you when you arrive.

When You Arrive

We ask that you show up 20 minutes before your scheduled appointment. When you do, make sure to have the following with you:

  • Any medications or herbal supplements that you are currently taking
  • Your insurance card
  • Your photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport
  • Any previous medical or laboratory records

Clinic Policy

Please review the following documents to understand our clinic policy and procedures: