You might have a few questions if you have been referred for a neuropsychological evaluation. If you do, you’re not alone. Here are some of the common questions that patients ask.
The National Academy of Neuropsychology defines a neuropsychologist as an individual with:
Q: Is Dr. Buddin a Neuropsychologist?
A neuropsychological evaluation is a multi-step process designed to define the dynamic, unique characteristics of a person’s brain-behavior relationship. It is used to answer several types of referral questions including:
It typically involves three phases:
The interview is conducted first. This is when information specific to your referral question and developmental, medical and psychiatric histories are taken down.
The assessment portion is conducted with either a neuropsychologist or a technician that is trained and supervised by the neuropsychologist. During this phase, you’ll be administered a series of standardized tests that are sensitive to brain functioning and chosen to address specifically your presenting complaint. Broadly, the tests a neuropsychologist uses measure areas of brain functioning that include:
Finally, a feedback session is held about a week after the assessment. The neuropsychologist’s job at this point is to integrate as many relevant points of data as possible into a cohesive, yet multi-faceted narrative that describes the findings of the entire evaluation in context of the referral question. Sounds complicated? It is. Don’t worry, though - a good neuropsychologist enjoys the challenge.
There are many causes and outcomes of brain impairment. The source of impairment cannot always be detected on common imaging studies, like Computerized Tomography (sometimes referred to as a “CT” or “cat” scan) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). A neuropsychological evaluation is extremely useful in these situations, as many neuropsychological tests are highly sensitive to very subtle changes in brain functioning that would be otherwise missed.
Neuropsychological assessment is also useful when structural abnormalities are found on imaging studies. The results of an evaluation conducted by a qualified neuropsychologist can supplement findings by determining the nature and degree of impairment as it relates to the physical abnormalities.
A neuropsychologist often performs an assessment of other areas of functioning, such as academic skills or emotional functioning, even when no biological causes are suspected. An evaluation almost always is tailored to answer referral questions, and is further refined based on information obtained during an initial interview.
The results of a neuropsychological evaluation provide an objective evaluation of current cognitive functioning. Further information can be obtained about prognosis for both short- and long-term outcomes, and can yield recommendations, guiding specific interventions.