WHAT IS NEUROPSYCHOLOGY?
Clinical Neuropsychology is an advanced specialty of psychology that focuses on brain function. A neuropsychological evaluation consists of the administration of specific tests to assess functioning in select areas of the brain. One goal of an evaluation is to uncover any underlying conditions that may contribute to problems processing information and functioning optimally. Another goal is to devise interventions to enhance treatment planning, improve symptom management, and optimize overall quality of life.
A neuropsychologist is a psychologist who has completed two full years of post-doctoral training in neuropsychology with formal educational and clinical activities focused on basic neurosciences, functional neuroanatomy, neuropathology, clinical neurology, assessment, and psychological intervention.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION AND A NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION?
Neuropsychological evaluations are the most comprehensive evaluations. A psychological evaluation typically includes a clinical interview, mood or personality measures, and occasionally intelligence tests. A neuropsychological evaluation expands upon information gathered in a psychological evaluation, and includes measures to assess brain function. Acquired information is synthesized to assist in diagnosis and treatment planning. The result is targeted interventions that address the root of concerning social, emotional, cognitive, or behavioral patterns.
WHAT CONDITIONS MAY BENEFIT FROM A NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Giftedness combined with difficulties in other learning areas
Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)
Intellectual Developmental Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Major Neurocognitive Disorder (Dementia)
Mild Neurocognitive Disorder
Movement Disorders (e.g., Parkinson’s disease, Lewy-Body disease, Huntington’s disease)
Neuropsychiatric Symptoms after COVID-19
Sleep Disorders (e.g., insomnia, sleep apnea)
Specific Learning Disorders
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
WHAT ASPECTS OF FUNCTIONING DO TESTS MEASURE?
Attention and Concentration
Learning and Memory
Mood and Personality
WHAT ARE SOME GOALS OF A NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT?
Identify individual thinking patterns and quantify strengths and weaknesses
Aid in diagnosis or differential diagnosis of underlying conditions or diseases (e.g., Anxiety disorder vs. ADHD vs. both)
Inform treatment and intervention through the introduction of individualized compensatory strategies, guidelines for school or workplace accommodations, and/or modifications to create a safer home environment
Establish a baseline of functioning to serve a basis for comparison in the event of future decline or to assess for improvement following injury (e.g., TBI or stroke)
WHAT DOES THE EVALUATION PROCESS LOOK LIKE?
Each evaluation consists of three main components:
1. Review of History
In-depth social history form
This phase helps clarify the referral question, informs early impressions, and provides important information to tailor the specific assessment battery for each individual.
2. Data Collection
Completion of Self/Observer-Report Questionnaire forms assessing cognitive, social, and emotional functioning in different settings.
Collaborative Consultation (e.g., teachers, other mental health care providers, or family members)
During this phase, individuals participate in the cognitive assessment component across one or more test sessions depending on the referral question, client preferences, and clinic availability. Questionnaires are completed on one’s own time in between testing sessions. Dr. Bradley makes efforts to consult with other valuable informants in each client’s life to develop a comprehensive picture of functioning in various settings.
Discussion of next steps/Recommendations
In the final phase, Dr. Bradley will review the findings of your evaluation in detail. You will also have the opportunity to ask questions to broaden your understanding of results, and ensure you feel confident in the next steps of your treatment plan.
HOW DO I PREPARE FOR MY EVALUATION?
There is no way to study for a neuropsychological evaluation. The best things you can do to prepare for your appointment include getting a good night’s rest, eating a nutritious meal, and preparing your home environment to optimize comfort and minimize distraction. Dr. Bradley and her team will walk you through specifics to your own case upon scheduling.