A neuropsychological assessment is a performance-based method to assess cognitive functioning. This method is used to examine the cognitive consequences of brain damage, brain disease, and severe mental illness. The type of test used varies depending on what needs to be assessed.
A clinical psychologist carries out neuropsychological assessments. A medical specialist such as a psychiatrist, your GP or an employer might refer you or you may refer yourself. There are a variety of different functions that can be tested with a neuropsychological assessment. You may need to be assessed for whether you are ready to return to work after a serious physical or mental illness. You might need an assessment after a brain injury or to gage the effects of medication or the impact of illegal substances. You might need to be assessed to evaluate whether a diagnosis such as Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (AADD) is appropriate, as a preliminary to a treatment plan.
Typically, a neuropsychological evaluation will begin with a general interview. You will be asked questions about your symptoms, history and background. Your answers will help the neuropsychologist develop a good understanding of your symptoms. If a family member or friend comes with you, they will also be asked some questions about your difficulties and concerns. Next, your companion will be asked to leave and you will undergo written and oral tests. Neuropsychological tests examine a variety of abilities and skills such as attention and concentration, general intelligence, memory, language, visuoperceptual and visuospatial skills, executive functions (e.g. planning, mental control, problem solving), and mood. Depending on your injury or illness, the assessment may focus on some abilities more than others.
The length of the testing time will depend on your condition (e.g. fatigue, confusion or slowed motor/cognitive speed can extend the time required to complete the assessment), and complexity of the issues to be addressed by the assessment. Testing is usually completed in 2 hours but can sometimes take up to 8 hours or longer. This would typically occur on the same day but it may occasionally be necessary to complete the tests over two or more sessions. In general, your neuropsychologist will attempt to obtain your best possible performance under optimal conditions.
The results of the cognitive assessment are normally presented in a report, together with a summary of your more important medical and personal history as well as current problems you are experiencing. During a feedback session, which typically lasts no more than 60 minutes, your neuropsychologist will discuss the results with you, as well as providing recommendations for you and your family and answering your questions and concerns.
In general, results can be used to:
The following represent common reasons for assessment:
In each of these conditions, there may be damage or potential damage to the brain and the neuropsychologist can help to determine which areas of the brain are not working properly.
As your neuropsychologist attempts to elicit your best possible performance under optimal conditions, several situations can interfere with this goal:
Please report to your neuropsychologist if you think that any of these issues are likely to interfere with the evaluation.
Patients should not consider the neuropsychological evaluation to be an exam and be worried as a consequence. The tests cannot be passed or failed, they describe how well you perform relative to your peers, your age and other cultural factors .The tests are meant to test your limits, so please don’t be discouraged if they seem difficult.
Our clinical psychologist has over 25 years’ experience carrying out assessments and has worked in community, mental health and hospital settings. Therefore you can rely on Psymplicity Healthcare to provide a thorough, expert and in-depth assessment.