Why do I need a Neuropsychological Assessment?

This article will answer the question “why do I need a neuropsychological assessment?” The article will then discuss what neuropsychological assessments are, how and when they are conducted and also shine a light on what neuropsychology is. In the end, the article will answer some frequently asked questions.

Why do I need a Neuropsychological Assessment? 

One of the major purposes of a neuropsychology assessment is to help answer several questions such as:

Regarding the integrity of cognitive functions

An evaluation such as this also helps in identifying the presence, nature, and severity of cognitive dysfunction. It also helps provide a baseline which is then used to monitor future mood, cognitive abilities, and personality changes, which also includes several treatment effects.

Differential Diagnosis

Differential diagnosis is also used to confirm or clarify a diagnosis. 

This helps in evaluating several other psychiatric and neurological disorders. 

It also helps in evaluating any cerebral dysfunction in the absence of clear anatomical evidence of alterations as well as helps in identifying any other psychological factors such as depression that could have contributed  to cognitive dysfunction

Treatment planning

Several treatment recommendations for cognitive disorders and psychological adjustment, including a profile of strengths and weaknesses to guide rehabilitation, educational, vocational, or other services are provided by us. Other factors such as determining various levels of cognitive functioning that relate to work, school, and independent living are evaluated as well. 

The evaluation helps assess one’s readiness to return to work and other significant life activities, such as financial management and driving, after a brain injury or neurologic illness. 

Evaluation such as this helps address several other strengths and weaknesses to see if the person is capable of returning to major life roles. 

What is a neuropsychologist? 

These are psychologists that specialise in understanding how behaviours interact with the brain. Neuropsychologist helps understand the relationship between the brain and several other behaviours that people engage in. 

The neuropsychologist also tries to understand how disorders of the brain and the nervous system can affect the behaviour and cognitive functioning of an individual. These are individuals who have a doctorate in psychology and are trained in neuropsychology. 

Their role is to understand how systems of the brain affect behaviour and thinking, as well as how several structures of the brain function. Neuropsychologists often work in clinical settings. They can also work in hospitals. 

What does a neuropsychologist do? 

Neuropsychologists work in collaboration with doctors and neurologists.

They study and treat people who have been diagnosed with various brain or nervous system disorders. 

Disorders of both the brain, Illnesses, and injuries of the nervous system can affect how our cognitive functioning works. Following are the symptoms for which you might visit a neuropsychologist: they are as follows;  memory problems, mood disturbances, difficulty in learning, and nervous system dysfunction. Neuropsychologists also diagnose and study Parkinson’s disease, which is a neurological disorder that can cause several physical dysfunctions. 

Neuropsychologist helps examine and study the prognosis of the patient to help them get better by buffering the effects of the disease. Diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia disorders that can cause changes in one’s memory, personality, and cognitive abilities are also studied by neuropsychologists. 

The effects of traumatic brain injuries and their impact on one’s cognitive functioning, decision making and problem-solving is studied by them. Various treatment plans for individuals with learning disabilities and how they develop and affect a person over time is studied and monitored by a neuropsychologist. 

What Are Neuropsychological Tests? 

Neuropsychological tests help assess issues with concentrating or making decisions. These tests help in figuring out the problem factor. These tests can be done with the help of a pencil and paper in a doctor’s office, or done on computer. It can also be done if a neuropsychologist might just asks you a series of questions that you answer orally. These tests can help assess one’s attention span and concentration skills. 

Following are the other factors that are covered by neuropsychological testing: 

One’s ability to think, process, understand, learn, and remember (cognition)

Ability to memorize things

Motor function (walking, coordination, etc.)

Perception (how well you take in what you see or read)

Decision-making and problem solving

Verbal ability

Different tests are given to assess, they might include: 

Memory test: Repetition of a list of words, sentences, or numbers.

Cognition test: This test explains how two items are alike. For instance, if a picture of a dog and a cat are shown, one might answer that they’re both animals or that they are both pets.

Verbal communication test: In this test, the person has to name some items on the board as the person giving the test points them. You might also be given a letter of the alphabet and told to list words that start with that letter.

Motor tests: Tasks such as inserting pegs into a pegboard using one hand and then the other is given in motor tests.

Tests that measure an individual’s hearing and vision and their effects on thinking and memory too are assessed. 

Neuropsychological Test Uses

These tests are taken to see if there are any noticeable changes in your thinking or memory. These tests help doctors figure out whether your problems are caused by any of the following:

Emotional disorders, such as depression or anxiety

Diseases, such as Alzheimer’s

Brain injury

Normal brain changes related to getting older

People with Parkinson’s can have trouble with their memory or with communication. Hence, it is important that doctors find out about thinking problems that the patient has in cases where the patient has a movement disorder such as Parkinson’s disease. This condition affects the brain cells that control movement and coordination. 

Neuropsychological tests are given post-diagnosis. Results from these future tests can then be compared with that first test to how the disease is changing ones thinking skills.

Which is better neurologist or neuropsychologist? 

Neuropsychologists treat cognitive, mental, as well as behavioural effects that brain disorders have on a person without the use of medications. Whereas, Neurologists only provide medication treatment for any physical problems caused by brain disorders. 

What Conditions do Neuropsychologists treat? Neuropsychologists treat the following conditions:

  • Attentional Deficit and Hyperactive Disorder
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders like Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Disabilities
  • Down Syndrome, Huntington’s Disease, Tic disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Alzheimer’s Disease and other Dementia Disorders
  • Addiction Disorders
  • Neurological effects of depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Neurocognitive Disorders

What is Cognitive Neuroscience? 

Cognitive Neuroscience has its focuses on how the brain is able to make memories, learn the language, and engage in problem-solving. It also focuses on understanding how the brain uses the same. In a way, cognitive neuroscience focuses on how these functions of the brain are used for the survival of the organism. 

Conclusion

This article answers the question “why do I need a neuropsychological assessment?” The article then discusses what neuropsychological assessments are, how and when they are conducted and also shines a light on what neuropsychology is. In the end, the article will answer some frequently asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions: Why do I need a Neuropsychological Assessment? 

What is the goal of a neuropsychological assessment?

The goal of a neuropsychological evaluation is to assess and identify strengths and weaknesses across several areas. Some children referred for an evaluation may already have a known learning disorder or another diagnosis. Other children might be referred because of some other concern or question.

What is included in a neuropsychological assessment?

Neuropsychological tests evaluate functioning in several areas such as  intelligence, attention, language,  executive functions (such as planning, abstraction, and conceptualization), memory, perception, sensorimotor functions, quality of life, motivation, mood state and emotion, , and personality styles.

Do neuropsychologists diagnose mental illness?

Patients should be referred to a neuropsychologist who has the right credentials. In clinical neuropsychology, professionals make use of image testing, which is used to diagnose and assess the damage that a known issue caused or other brain disorders.  

How accurate is neuropsychological testing?

Through evaluation, it is found that neuropsychological testing has 90% accuracy that helps in detecting Alzheimer’s dementia from non-dementia (Weissberger et al., 2017). Dementia and depression also cause similar difficulties that can be identified and treated on time with the help of these evaluation processes. 

References

Weissberger, G. H., Strong, J. V., Stefanidis, K. B., Summers, M. J., Bondi, M. W., & Stricker, N. H. (2017). Diagnostic Accuracy of Memory Measures in Alzheimer’s Dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Neuropsychology Review, 27(4), 354–388. doi:10.1007/s11065-017-9360-6

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?