Neuropsychology Patient Evaluations

The Division of Neuropsychology provides Neuropsychological assessments in both English and Spanish.

Purpose of the Evaluation

Neuropsychological evaluations are typically requested to assist your doctors and healthcare providers in determining if cognitive functions, such as memory, attention and problem solving, are functioning at expected levels. Doctors usually request a neuropsychological evaluation when you or people close to you are concerned that you may be experiencing some difficulty with your memory or thinking abilities. Often, family members may notice the changes before the patient is aware of problems.

Changes in cognitive abilities can be caused by medical, neurological, psychological or hereditary issues. Some of the more well-known conditions that can impact brain function include:

  • Neurodegenerative Disorders (Dementia, Alzheimer's disease, frontotemporal dementia etc.)
  • Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders
  • Epilepsy/seizure disorders
  • Tramatic brain injuries/concussion
  • Brain tumors
  • Brain infections (encephalitis, meningitis, etc)
  • Psychiatric disorders (depression, somatoform disorders, etc.)
  • Substance abuse
  • Exposure to pesticides and other toxic chemicals
  • Cerebrovascular disease (heart attacks, strokes)
  • Diabetes
  • Autoimmune disorders (multiple sclerosis, etc.)
  • Chronic pain/presurgical evaluations
  • Learning disorders
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders (children 14 and older)
  • Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH)

What Cognitive Skills Are Assessed?

Neuropsychological evaluations typically assess several areas of cognitive functioning. The neuropsychologist will look for particular patterns between these areas to help determine if there is a need for concern. Some of the areas that the neuropsychologist will evaluate include:

  • General intellectual ability
  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Language skills
  • Problem-solving and reasoning ability
  • Functional abilities (everyday living skills)
  • Mood and personality

How Does the Neuropsychologist Use the Scores?

Once you have taken the tests, the results are compared to healthy people who are in your same age group and have a similar educational background. In this way, the neuropsychologist can determine if you are functioning where you should be for your age or if your scores may be low in some areas. If your scores are low in some areas, the neuropsychologist will look at the pattern of the scores to try to determine why they are low and if they reflect a particular neurological pattern such as Alzheimer's disease or another type of condition.

How Does this Evaluation Help?

  • Testing can determine if memory changes are age-related or if they may be related to a particular disease or injury
  • Test results may be used to establish a baseline of your abilities in order to compare them to future evaluations
  • Test results are often required to assist in differentiating between diseases so that the most appropriate treatment can be initiated
  • Presurgical assessments: If you are being considered for a procedure, such as deep brain stimulation or surgery for epilepsy, a neuropsychological assessment helps to inform the interdisciplinary team as to whether you would be a good candidate for the surgery or if you may be at significant risk for cognitive decline as a result of the surgery
  • Your scores will also help you and your family members know what abilities you are able to do independently and what things you may need help with

What to Expect

  • At some point during the evaluation, you and a family member will be interviewed to obtain a thorough understanding of what your symptoms are, when they first began and how they have progressed
  • The tests you will be given examine how certain systems in your brain are functioning. You will be given a wide variety of tests that examine these functions. Some of the tests will be easy for you and other will be difficult. This is normal. Just try your best throughout the evaluation.
  • The length of testing will vary depending on several factors. However, you should plan on being here for most of the day (you may finish early). You will be given a lunch break, and you may request other breaks as needed.
  • If you wear hearing aids or glasses, please bring them
  • If you need to take medications during the day, please bring them with you. You may also bring a drink or snack.

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