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Neuropsychological Evaluation

The neuropsychological evaluation involves testing that is sensitive to problems in brain functioning. Unlike CT or MRI scans, 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, learning and remembering information).

Results of a neuropsychological evaluation may be of help in the following ways:

  • Finding or ruling out problems in brain functioning
  • Forming a diagnosis (e.g., distinguishing dementia versus mild cognitive impairment or depression)
  • Defining a person’s cognitive and behavioral strengths and weaknesses
  • Guiding treatment and rehabilitation for neuro-medical, educational or vocational purposes
  • Providing treatment recommendations to other healthcare provider(s), and/or
  • Documenting possible changes in cognitive or behavioral functioning over time
  • Clarifying decision-making capacity

What Does a Neuropsychological Evaluation Involve?

A neuropsychological evaluation involves a comprehensive evaluation of an individual’s cognitive and behavioral functioning using a set of standardized, tabletop tests and procedures. Various thinking abilities are systematically tested, including, but not limited to:

  • Intelligence
  • Academic Functions
  • Reasoning and Problem Solving
  • Planning and Organization
  • Attention
  • Visual and Perceptual Abilities
  • Learning and Memory
  • Language
  • Sensory and Motor Abilities
  • Personality and Emotional Status

When is a Neuropsychological Evaluation Needed?

A neuropsychological evaluation can be helpful whenever questions arise regarding possible brain-related impairment in cognitive functioning (e.g., thinking abilities) or behavior. Referrals are generally made to diagnose or rule out the following conditions, and to identify their impact on a person’s cognitive functioning:

  • Intelligence
  • Memory Loss (to include questions of normal aging versus mild cognitive impairment or dementia)
  • Academic and Learning Difficulties
  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease
  • Seizure Disorders
  • Medical Illness
  • Emotional/Behavioral Problems
  • Cognitive Dysfunction Tied to Other Factors (e.g., medication effects, sleep disruption, pain, etc.)
  • Personality and Emotional Status