1. What is Clinical Neuropsychology?

Clinical neuropsychology is a specialty profession within psychology that focuses on the cognitive, behavioral, and emotional problems that may arise from known or suspected brain dysfunction. A clinical neuropsychologist is a licensed, doctoral level psychologist with expertise in how various brain conditions affect your behavior, mood, and thinking skills. The clinical neuropsychologist evaluates brain functioning by objectively testing memory and other thinking skills. A detailed assessment of these abilities is completed, and the results are used to determine the diagnosis and to provide treatment recommendations.

2. Why Was I Referred for A Neuropsychological Evaluation?

Your doctor may refer you for a neuropsychological evaluation to better understand how the different areas and systems of your brain are working. A referral is usually recommended when there are concerns about your thinking abilities, such as changes or problems in concentration, organization, problem solving, memory, language, perception, coordination, and personality, or concerns about your academic functioning. These problems may stem from any number of medical, neurological, psychological, developmental, or genetic causes. A neuropsychological evaluation will be helpful in understanding your specific situation and help your medical providers determine the best plan to treat you.

3. What Will Be Assessed?

A typical neuropsychological evaluation will involve assessment of general intellect, attention and concentration, processing speed, higher level executive skills (e.g., reasoning, problem-solving, organization, sequencing, etc.), learning and memory, language, visual-spatial skills (e.g., perception), motor and sensory skills, mood, and personality functioning. Some abilities may be measured in more detail than others, depending on your specific needs.

4. What Will the Results Tell Me?

Test results are used to help understand the cause of problems with your thinking. The tests used are very sensitive in identifying mild memory and thinking problems that might not be detectable in other ways. For example, testing can help determine whether memory changes are normal age-related changes or if they reflect a neurological disorder. Testing can also help differentiate among illnesses, which is important because appropriate treatment depends on accurate diagnosis. For example, testing can help to differentiate between Alzheimer’s disease, cerebrovascular disease, and depression. Your doctor can then use the results of your neuropsychological evaluation (along with results of other tests, such as brain imaging and blood tests) to arrive at the most informed diagnosis.

Sometimes testing is performed before and after a medical or surgical treatment to determine whether thinking abilities were affected by the intervention. Test results can also be used to demonstrate how well you are recovering from a stroke, traumatic brain injury, alcoholism, or other medical condition. Results can help determine whether or not you are ready to return to work or school, resume driving, or take on other responsibilities.

If you have concerns about your child’s behavior, learning, or attention, a neuropsychological evaluation can provide valuable insights into the underlying causes of academic concerns to help you better understand your child’s needs and assist with obtaining appropriate academic accommodations. Such evaluations are also useful in providing diagnostic clarification when a developmental disorder, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), is suspected, but uncertain.

5. What Should I Expect During the Evaluation?

A neuropsychological evaluation consists of a clinical interview, followed by an assessment of your cognitive skills and emotional functioning. During the clinical interview, you will be asked about your current symptoms, medical and psychiatric history, medications, and other important factors. Assessment of your cognitive and emotional functioning will involve taking paper-and-pencil or computerized tests. These tests typically involve writing or drawing, solving puzzles, and answering questions. It is important to work as hard as possible on these tests in order for the results to be accurate. You may also be asked to complete questionnaires focused on your mood and psychological symptoms.

With children, parents are often asked to complete questionnaires about their child’s behavior.

With your permission, we may ask to speak to a close family member or friend in order to obtain additional information regarding any problems in thinking or behavior that they may have noticed in you. This individual is welcome to accompany you to the clinical interview portion of the appointment, which will last about 45 minutes. If this individual is unable to accompany you to the appointment, you are welcome to provide their contact information, and we will contact them at a later time.

6. What Should I Bring with Me?

You are welcome to bring water and snacks with you to the appointment. You are also encouraged to bring your glasses, contact lenses, or hearing aids, if appropriate, along with a list of all your current medications and other relevant medical records that you feel may be helpful. If you had a neuropsychological evaluation in the past, please bring those records with you as well.

7. How Long is the Evaluation?

The length of the evaluation may vary depending on multiple factors, such as the problem being assessed, which tests need to be administered, and how quickly you are able to work comfortably. In general, it is anticipated that the evaluation will take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours to assess the many skills involved. You will be able to take some breaks if needed.

8. What Happens After the Evaluation?

After the assessment, you will be provided with feedback and a written report, including clear recommendations targeted toward your specific needs. These recommendations will be used by your doctors to help guide your treatment. Referrals for various specialties (e.g., neurology or psychiatry) and therapies (e.g., physical, occupational, or speech therapy) will be made when indicated. We can also match you with the appropriate psychotherapist and treatment protocol to help address your specific challenges.

With children/academics, our recommendations can also be used by your child’s school to ensure appropriate accommodations and services to promote success.

9. Is the Evaluation Covered by My Insurance?

Many insurance companies typically cover one neuropsychological evaluation annually, but this may depend on your specific insurance coverage. We accept most major insurance plans. If you have any concerns about insurance coverage, please check with your insurance company.

Some insurance companies do not cover neuropsychological testing for autism spectrum disorder (ASD); however, we can perform a screen for the core symptoms of ASD and examine cognitive functioning in individuals with autism to help with treatment planning. Learning disability evaluations (e.g., Dyslexia) are also not covered by insurance and are usually paid for out-of-pocket.