A neuropsychological evaluation is an assessment of how the brain functions in various domains. The combination of the words Neuro and Psychology indicate that both neurocognitive (brain functioning) and psychological/mental health factors are assessed within this evaluation. A common question we are asked is if instrumentation is used to place on the head or body to measure internal processes. In contrast to imaging tests conducted at a neurologist or doctor’s office that require instrumentation to be placed on the head or body, our testing process does not require this sort of instrumentation.
Neuropsychological testing is primarily comprised of an interview and a series of performance-based tests and questionnaires. The majority of tests are paper and pencil tests, with some tests requiring verbal responses to confirm your answer. Thus, when people ask what they should bring to our evaluation, the most important thing to bring is your brain! Otherwise, we will provide everything else that is needed to initiate testing.
Testing can be divided into three portions: the interview, psychological testing, and neurocognitive testing. The interview will consist of the examiner asking you questions about your symptoms and relevant background information. The psychological portion of testing can determine the presence of personality disorders and/or mental health disorders. Testing for personality and mental health disorders is an important part of the neuropsychological evaluation, although some people are initially confused why we assess for mental health concerns. The reason to test for mental health symptoms is that various mental health presentations can contribute to impaired cognitive functioning and can even sometimes mimic certain neurological or medical conditions. Thus, it is important for us to determine if these disorders are present, and to determine the impact they might have upon your cognitive functioning. Next, neurocognitive testing measures the functioning of your brain in areas such as attention, memory, visual-spatial reasoning, learning, executive functioning, language, processing speed, and fine motor functioning. This constitutes the majority of the evaluation, and it can be somewhat fatiguing for many individuals.
The emphasis for a neurocognitive evaluation is to determine the brain’s ability to function in these various areas. This is in contrast to testing/imaging you may receive at a neurologist’s office where your doctor might take a picture of your brain to determine the presence of something abnormal. In contrast, our evaluation focuses on how the brain is able to function when given various tasks to perform.
A neuropsychological evaluation may be necessary if you are trying to determine your level of functioning following a brain injury such as a traumatic brain injury, stroke, concussion, or vascular injury. You may want to understand how your cognitive functioning has changed after these events have occurred, or you may want to have an understanding of your neuropsychological functioning for other reasons (i.e. to determine the presence of an intellectual disability, to measure adaptive functioning and capability to make financial or medical decisions, or to measure cognitive functioning in order to determine eligibility for certain services).
Furthermore, neuropsychological evaluations can be helpful to determine a course of medical or mental health treatment, inform the care your neurologist/medical doctor has initiated, or to determine if a decline in cognitive functioning has occurred as a result of dementia or another neurocognitive disorder that often begins later in life. Lastly, neuropsychological testing is quite extensive and generally takes six to eight hours to complete (sometimes longer depending on the person taking the test).
Give the experts at Brain & Body Integration a call today to book a neuropsychological evaluation today. Our local clinical psychologists will provide a comfortable and professional environment to get your mental health answers.