What happens in a neuropsychological assessment?
A comprehensive neuropsychological evaluations can take between 2-8 hours, with breaks as needed.
1. Clinical Interview: The evaluation begins with a 1 hour clinical interview with a neuropsychologist that covers background and history. Family members typically participate in this meeting. Relevant medical records (e.g. CT/MRI results, reports from previous evaluations) can be helpful to provide at this time or may be sent prior to the appointment.
2. Testing and Evaluation: The next step involves working across the table to complete select paper-pencil or basic computer tests. These standardized tests typically evaluate the following aspects of “brain function”:
Global cognitive functioning (e.g. IQ)
Attention and “executive functions” (e.g. reasoning, problem solving)
Learning and memory
Visual spatial skills (e.g. perception)
Motor and sensory skills
Emotions and personality
After the evaluation is complete, the neuropsychologist examines the scores and compares them to sets of “normal” scores from healthy people who are matched for age, gender, education and race (if available). This allows the neuropsychologist to judge whether the scores are “normal” and whether there have been any changes in brain functioning that could account for the presenting concerns. Comparisons are also made with person’s own ability level to identify unique patterns of strengths and weaknesses.
3. Feedback and Report: A feedback session can be scheduled 1-2 weeks after the testing is complete. During this session, the neuropsychologist discusses the detailed, written report that incorporates the presenting concerns, background information, test results, impressions, and helpful recommendations for families, doctors or other referral sources. The report is confidential and only released to those who are authorized to receive it.
4. Follow-up treatment: If appropriate, psychological follow up care can be provided using psychotherapy or cognitive remediation techniques. Relevant referrals and recommendations can also be made to address the presenting concerns.
Click below for an educational pamphlet brought to you by the Public Interest Advisory Committee, Division 40 (Clinical Neuropsychology), American Psychological Association, that explains the process further.
Patient and Family Guide on Clinical Neuropsychology