Neuropsychology is a specialty area of Professional Psychology, with a focus upon the study of brain-behavior relationships, cognitive, intellectual, emotional and behavioral functioning, and the understanding of effects of various diseases and injuries of the brain upon these domains through the use of specialized assessment measures. Neuropsychological assessment examines the cognitive, intellectual, emotional and behavioral functioning of individuals with known or suspected diseases and injuries of the brain and nervous system, as well as a host of other developmental and neuropsychiatric disorders.
How Does a Neuropsychological Assessment Work?
The Neuropsychological examination typically involves a comprehensive clinical interview, as well as an extensive series of specialized and carefully standardized psychometric assessment measures. These measures allow us to assess a variety of relevant domains that include (but not limited to) the following areas:
1. General intelligence
2. Attention and Speed of Information Processing
3. Learning and memory
4. Speech, language and communicative abilities
5. Visuospatial and visuoconstructive abilities
6. Executive, conceptual reasoning, and problem-solving capacities
7. Fine motor skills and manual dexterity
8. Basic academic skills
9. Emotional and behavioral functioning
Since each assessment that we conduct is unique to the individual's specific needs (and the nature of the referral questions that are asked), the nature of the assessment and the length of time that it will take to complete will vary on a case-by-case basis. In rare instances, only an interview is conducted. However, the majority of cases involve not only the clinical interview, but the comprehensive psychometric assessment process that typically runs an additional 6-10 hours in order to complete. While about half of the examinations that we conduct can be completed within a single full day, nearly half of our cases will need to return for a second (and rarely third) visit in order to complete the assessment process.
We make every attempt to conduct the examination in the primary language of the patient, and are fortunate to have several Associates who speak a variety of languages and come from differing ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Occasionally, we must rely upon a certified translator/interpreter in order to complete the examination process.
Following completion of the face-to-face assessment process, the neuropsychologist then spends an additional 2-4 hours scoring and tabling the entire database that has been collected. Following the analysis and clinical interpretation of the assessment database, a report is typically (but not always) prepared. Reports tend to vary in length depending upon the nature and complexity of the referral questions and the length of the assessment that was completed. These reports often fall into several categories including a short report (typically 2-4 pages), an intermediate report (typically 5-10 pages) and a comprehensive report (typically 11-20 pages). Reports generally take 2-4 weeks to complete, although at times reports are prepared on an urgent basis, when prior arrangements have been made and may also incur additional cost if prepared on a rush basis.
Depending upon the nature of the referral process and the preferences of the patient, a single feedback or "informing" session will be conducted, either prior to, or following, preparation of a written report (if a report is to be prepared). The patient may chose whether or not they would like to have another family member or interested party present during a feedback session (and must consent in written form both for the release of a written report to a specific party, as well as to the presence of another party during a feedback session).
What Does A Neuropsychological Assessment Tell Me?
Depending upon the referral questions, Neuropsychological evaluations can be useful for many reasons, including:
1. Assistance with differential diagnosis
2. A detailed assessment and profiling of cognitive strengths and weaknesses
3. A broader understanding of underlying brain-cognition-behavioral relationships
as they relate to day-to-day functioning
4. Suggestions for treatment strategies and interventions
5. Assessment of treatment effectiveness
6. Repeated assessments to "chart" disease course, recovery or decline
7. Assessment of the need for special accommodations in academic settings,
workplace environments, and for examination procedures (such as SATs,
college exams, professional licensing board exams, etc.)
8. Assistance with academic placement and learning related interventions 9.
Assessment of effort level and motivation to perform