Neuropsychological Testing

Posted October 2, 2022 by Anusha ‐ 3 min read

A neuropsychological evaluation is a test to measure how well a person's brain is working. The abilities tested include reading, language usage, attention, learning, processing speed, reasoning, remembering, problem-solving, mood and personality and more.

What is Neuropsychology?

  • Neuropsychology is a specialty field that joins the medical fields of neurology, psychology and psychiatry.

  • Neuropsychology involves determining how well the brain is working when it is disrupted by a brain injury or psychological disorder.

  • A neuropsychological assessment is a comprehensive test of a wide range of mental functions including behavior.

What mental functions are assessed in a Neuropsychological exam?

If you are undergoing a neuropsychological assessment, the mental functions tested include:

  • General intellect.

  • Reading/reading comprehension.

  • Language usage and understanding of what others say.

  • Attention/concentration.

  • Processing speed.

  • Learning and memory.

  • Reasoning.

  • Executive functions, which are higher-level skills you use to organize and plan, manage your time, problem solve, multi-task, make judgments and maintain self-control.

  • Visuospatial skills.

  • Motor speed and dexterity.

  • Mood and personality.

What does a Neuropsychological exam involve?

  • The neuropsychologist will talk with you to understand any concerns you and your family members might have about your cognitive (mental) functioning.

  • He or she will also review your medical and psychological history and educational background.

  • If a family member comes to the evaluation with you, the neuropsychologist may ask for your permission to interview him or her as well.

  • Your neuropsychologist will choose the tests that you are given.

  • The tests are given and scored by a trained technician called a psychometrist who works under the supervision of the neuropsychologist.

  • The tests typically involve writing or drawing, solving puzzles or answering questions, and responding to things presented on a computer.

  • Most people find some of the tests to be quite easy and others to be difficult.

  • It is important to work as hard as possible on all of the tests in order for the results to be most informative.

  • You will also complete questionnaires about mood and psychological symptoms.

  • Parents of children referred for neuropsychological examinations often complete questionnaires about their child’s behavior.

  • Finally, the neuropsychologist writes a report that summarizes the results and includes recommendations for improving cognition (e.g., attention, memory) and possibly referrals to other professionals.

What to prepare for the Neuropsychological examination?

  • Get a good night’s sleep.

  • Try to eat a good breakfast.

  • Take all of your medications as usual unless you are directly instructed to do otherwise.

  • If you use glasses, contact lenses, or hearing aids, make sure you have them with you.

  • If you have had any neuropsychological, psychological or academic testing done in the past, bring those records with you.

  • If your child is undergoing the testing, and he or she has completed an intellectual evaluation, psychoeducational evaluation, multifactored evaluation (MFE), or individual education program (IEP), bring copies of the results of those evaluations.

How long does a Neuropsychological exam take?

  • The length of time for testing varies considerably based on the nature of the reason for the examination.

  • Depending on the situation, testing can take anywhere between one and eight hours, although two to four hours is typical.

  • The testing time depends on which tests need to be administered and how quickly you are able to work comfortably.

  • You will be allowed to take some breaks depending on how you are feeling and the length of the test.

How are test results interpreted?

  • Most of the tests used in neuropsychology are standardized, which means they are given the same way to everybody.

  • The tests are also norm-referenced, which means that a patient’s performance on those tests will be compared to the performance of other people who are about the same age and, sometimes, people who have the same educational background.

  • The test results are used to answer many types of questions.

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