is a Neuropsychological Evaluation?
Testing how the brain works is done by seeing how a person performs on various
cognitive measures. These measures are essentially "samples" of behaviors -- how a person performs a particular
task. Over time, research has helped clarify and associate various behaviors with certain brain functions and brain areas.
The tests are noninvasive (no poking or prodding) and usually involve a variety of pencil-and-paper tasks or other items.
Another way to look a neuropsychological examination is using an analogy of taking a car in to a garage for a
check-up. The garage may have two "mechanics" in this "shop." One mechanic may be thought of as a person
who pops open the hood and attaches various diagnostic machines to the engine. A neurologist may be viewed in this manner
as he/she may evaluate various structures of the brain with CT, MRI, or other imaging tools. The second mechanic may take
the "car" for an actual test spin to see how it performs under different conditions. In this way, the neuropsychological
tests can be seen as seeing how the brain is "performing" in a similar manner.
For individuals who
may be referred to undergo a neuropsychological evaluation, the most important question may be, "How is this going to
help me?" This may vary, depending upon the reason a person is seeking an exam and/or the question(s) a doctor may have
in making the referral.
may help with diagnosing not only the type, but also the extent of possible brain impairment/alterations.
In addition, an evaluation addresses a person's strengths and weaknesses
that may impact certain abilities/skills at home, work, etc.
Testing may also provide a "baseline" to assess how individuals perform at certain time periods,
such as pre-/post-surgery, evaluation of improvements/changes of certain conditions, and potential treatment/medication
Depending on the nature of the evaluation,
recommendations for treatment may be made as well.