Information brought to you by the Public Interest Advisory Committee, Division 40 (Clinical Neuropsychology), American Psychological Association © 2001 Division 40, APA
For more information, visit their website at www.div40.org.
How are test scores used to understand my specific situation?
Your test scores will be compared to scores from people who are like you in important ways. By using database scores from large groups of healthy people for comparison, the neuropsychologist can judge whether or not your scores are normal for your age and educational background. The pattern of your own test scores will also be reviewed to estimate whether or not there has been a change in certain abilities. How you go about solving the various problems and answering questions during the examination will also be noted. Using these methods, your strengths and weaknesses can be identified.
Why have I been referred?
Neuropsychological evaluations are requested specifically to help your doctors and other professionals understand how the different areas and systems of the brain are working. Testing is usually recommended when there are symptoms or complaints involving memory or thinking. This may be signaled by a change in concentration, organization, reasoning, memory, language, perception, coordination, or personality. The change may be due to any of a number of medical, neurological, psychological, or genetic causes. Testing will be helpful in understanding your specific situation.
What is Clinical Neuropsychology?
Clinical neuropsychology is a specialty profession that focuses on brain functioning. A clinical neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist with expertise in how behavior and skills are related to brain structures and systems. In clinical neuropsychology, brain function is evaluated by objectively testing memory and thinking skills. A very detailed assessment of abilities is done, and the pattern of strengths and weaknesses is used in important health care areas, such as diagnosis and treatment planning. The clinical neuropsychologist conducts the evaluation and makes recommendations. He or she may also provide treatment, such as cognitive rehabilitation, behavior management, or psychotherapy.
What should I expect?
A neuropsychological evaluation usually consists of an interview and testing. During the interview, information that is important for the neuropsychologist to consider will be reviewed. You will be asked about your symptoms, medical history, medications, and other important factors. Testing involves taking paper-and-pencil or computerized tests and answering questions. The time required depends on the problem being assessed. In general, several hours are needed to assess the many skills involved in processing information. Some tests will be easy while others will be more complex. The most important thing is try your best. Bring glasses or hearing aids if you use them. Try to rest and relax before your evaluation. You will probably find testing interesting, and the detailed information that is gathered will contribute to your care.
What is Assessed?
A typical neuropsychological evaluation will involve assessment of the following:
Some abilities may be measured in more detail than others, depending on your needs.
What will the results tell me?
Test results can be used to understand your situation in a number of ways.