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What is Clinical Neuropsychology?

Clinical Neuropsychology is a specialized profession that focuses on brain functioning. A clinical neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist with expertise in how behavior and skills are related to brain structures and systems. In clinical neuropsychology, brain function is evaluated by the objective testing of memory and thinking skills. A very detailed assessment of abilities is performed. Then, the pattern of strengths and weaknesses is used in the patient's diagnosis and treatment planning. The clinical neuropsychologist conducts a thorough evaluation and then makes recommendations. He or she may also provide treatment, such as cognitive rehabilitation, behavior management, or psychotherapy.


Why have you been referred?

Neuropsychological evaluations are requested specifically to help you, your doctors, and other professionals to understand how the different areas and systems of the brain are working. Testing is usually recommended when there are symptoms or complaints involving memory and thinking. This may be signaled by change in concentration, organization, coordination, or personality. The change may be due to any of a number of medical, neurological, psychological, or genetic causes. Testing is helpful in understanding your specific situation.


What is assessed?

A typical neuropsychological evaluation will involve assessment of the following:

  • General intellect

  • Higher level executive skills (e.g., sequencing, reasoning, problem solving)

  • Attention and concentration

  • Learning and memory

  • Language

  • Visual-spatial skills

  • Motor and sensory skills

  • Mood and personality

Some abilities may be measured in more detail than others, depending on your needs.


How are test scores used to understand my specific situation?

Your test scores will be compared to scores from people who are comparable to you in important ways. By using database scores from large groups of healthy people for comparison, the neuropsychologist can judge whether or not your scores are normal for your age and educational background. The pattern of your own test scores will also be reviewed to estimate whether or not there has been a change in certain abilities. How you go about solving the various problems and answering questions during the examination will also be noted. Using these scientific, analytic methods, your strengths and weaknesses can be identified.

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