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Adult Day Health Care Branch Chief Long, California DepartmentAging

Neuropsychological Evaluation

Neuropsychology is the study of brain-behavior relationships. Neuropsychologists are specialists within the field of psychology with expertise in the applied science of such relationships.

What Are the Benefits?

A comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation can define specific changes in brain function, lead both to a clear understanding of a condition and to treatment, and a better understanding of your cognitive and emotional strengths and weaknesses.

Reasons for Referral

If you have been referred for neuropsychological evaluation it may be to:

  • Find possible problems with how your brain is functioning
  • Help lead to a diagnosis
  • Identify your brain-related strengths and weaknesses
  • Guide treatment for your personal, vocational, and educational goals; and make relevant recommendations to you other health care providers
  • Document possible changes in your functioning over time

How Does It Work?

A neuropsychological evaluation involves assessment with standardized tests that show the ways in which a person can or cannot perform every day tasks. The tests reveal the relationship between brain activity and success or impairment on those tasks.

Impairment in daily living skills may exist because of brain abnormalities that cannot be detected with brain scans like CT and MRI. In these circumstances neuropsychological assessment can reveal brain dysfunction even though no structural abnormalities can be seen. In cases of known structural abnormalities, neuropsychological assessment offers a way to determine what functions may be impaired, and the degree of impairment.

The standardized tests used in a neuropsychological evaluation typically assess abilities in the areas of:

  • attention/concentration
  • memory
  • speed of information processing
  • problem-solving and other complex abilities
  • visual-spatial skills
  • language function
  • sensory-perceptual and motor functions
  • emotional functioning

I interview you and key family members to understand your background and any current medical symptoms. I may also review of relevant medical records and other records, such as academic transcripts.

The outcome of a neuropsychological evaluation is a set of conclusions and recommendations that are developed by integrating information from the testing, interviews, review of records, and other observations that address the reason for the referral. The conclusions address your brain-related strengths and weaknesses. The recommendations are used to guide treatment and improve daily life functioning. The goal is to help you be as independent and successful in your daily life as possible.

I will schedule a consultation to go over the findings and report with you and, as appropriate, with your family or caregivers. I will also share the report, with your permission, with appropriate medical professionals and others.

My neuropsychological evaluation practice is for individuals aged 16 and over who have cognitive or behavioral changes due to brain injury, illness or developmental problems such as:

  • Stroke or TIA
  • Neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and other dementias, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and lupus
  • A blow to the head, including concussion and bomb blast exposure
  • PTSD
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or other learning disability, whether previously diagnosed or not
  • Head pain or memory or thinking complaints with no identified physical cause

Referral for a neuropsychological evaluation is typically done by a medical professional; however, you may decide to initiate the process yourself. Referral may also be done through an administrative process such as the worker’s compensation system. Whatever the source of the referral, the initial reason for the referral guides the structure and results of the neuropsychological evaluation.