What is a Neuropsychological Evaluation?
A neuropsychological evaluation involves administering various tests of cognitive, motor, and perceptual skills that are sensitive to problems in brain functioning.
Unlike CT or MRI brain imaging, which show what the structure of the brain looks like, neuropsychological testing examines how well the brain is working when it performs certain functions (for example, remembering or speaking).
The types of tests you will take depend upon the questions you and your physician have.
A neuropsychological evaluation often measures:
- Attention and Concentration
- Learning and memory
- Reasoning and problem-solving
- Visual-spatial functions
- Language and speaking ability
- Sensory-perceptual and Motor functions
- Academic skills
- Emotional functioning
What are the tests like?
Neuropsychological tests are not invasive; that is, they do not involve attaching you to machines or using X-rays. Commonly, the tests involve a question-and-answer format and/or working with materials on a table. Some tests are administered using a computer.
Who performs these tests?
The testing can be performed by the Clinical Neuropsychologist or by a specially trained Psychometrist. The Clinical Neuropsychologist will also spend some time taking with you about your medical, personal, and vocational/school history. The Clinical Neuropsychologist will also frequently ask you for permission to speak to a relative or friend of yours in order to provide the doctor with additional information about your day-to-day level of functioning from someone else's perspective.
How long does Neuropsychological Testing take?
The total time of the neuropsychological evaluation will vary and depends on the questions that you and your physician have.
As an example, the total time for patients undergoing a pre-surgical evaluation for medically intractable epilepsy (seizure disorder) is typically four (4) to five (5) hours. Evaluations completed for the Memory Disorder Clinics are often shorter, lasting anywhere from two (2) to four (4) hours. Not all of the time in the neuropsychology clinic is spent doing tests. You will always speak with the doctor during your visit. Longer evaluations six (6) to eight (8) hours are sometimes needed in special cases. Longer evaluations are sometimes divided into several appointments. You are free to take as many breaks during the evaluation as you would like. We strive to make you comfortable, and the doctor will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.
What happens AFTER I take all these tests?
At the end of testing, the neuropsychologist frequently can provide you with the initial test results. Each individual test must be scored, then all the tests must be interpreted based on your unique medical, personal, and vocational/school history. The interpretation is provided in the form of a consultation report that is submitted to the referring party (often a physician) who referred you for the neuropsychology consultation. If you request, you will also receive a copy of the consultation report. Often times, your referring physician will go over the results of the evaluation with you, very much like your doctor will review lab results you may have to check for high cholesterol in your blood. In addition to discussing results with your referring physician, you may also schedule an appointment with the clinical neuropsychologist to obtain additional feedback about your neuropsychological functioning if you are interested.