Neuropsychology is the science of how the brain affects the way that people think, feel, and behave. Clinical neuropsychology is the assessment of those brain-behavior relationships in individuals. For instance, a neuropsychologist might assess an individual's ability to pay attention, or look at how he or she solves a multi-step problem.
What is a neuropsychologist?
A neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist who has specialized training in the assessment of the brain functions that influence thinking, feeling, and behaving. A neuropsychologist has a doctoral degree in clinical or counseling psychology, has completed coursework regarding neuropsychological theory and practice, and has obtained professional experience related to neuropsychology.
What is a neuropsychological evaluation?
A neuropsychological evaluation uses multiple tools (paper-and-pencil, oral, and computer-based) to assess various types of cognitive (thinking) functions. Typical neuropsychological evaluations examine general intellectual functioning, attention and processing speed, learning and memory, language, and executive functions (e.g., problem-solving, impulse control).
How does a neuropsychological evaluation differ from a neurological, psychoeducational or psychological evaluation?
A neuropsychological evaluation provides a detailed overview of an individual's cognitive and emotional functioning using standardized tests. Results are compared to those of other people who are similar to the examinee to determine how the examinee functions relative to the rest of the population. Results are also compared to the examinee's performance in other evaluation areas to determine where strengths and weaknesses lie.
A neurological evaluation is performed by a neurologist, and assesses basic motor, sensor, and mental functions. Unlike a neuropsychological evaluation, which closely examines thinking skills and uses very sensitive measures, a neurological evaluation uncovers only obvious deficits in cognitive functioning.
A psychological evaluation is performed by a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist and provides an analysis of emotional, social, and personality functioning for the purpose of diagnosis and treatment. Unlike a neuropsychological evaluation, cognition is not closely examined. Note that some neuropsychological evaluations incorporate a psychological evaluation (e.g., if it is suspected that psychological symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, or psychosis, might be interfering with cognition).
What are some of the questions that neuropsychological assessment can address?
Neuropsychological assessment can be used for the following diagnostic purposes:
Diagnosing the nature and severity of disorders in which cognition is affected, such as Alzheimer's Disease, Vascular Dementia, traumatic brain injury, cardiovascular conditions, and stroke
Differential diagnosis (e.g., depression versus dementia)
Determination of functional outcomes, such as whether individuals have capacity to make various types of decisions, whether they can live independently, or whether they can drive
Provides realistic picture of strengths and weaknesses
How can you tell if a person's thinking and functioning is normal or abnormal?
The results of an individual assessment are compared to those of a large normative (standard) sample based on, for instance, age and education level. Statistical comparisons allow us to compare that person's performance to that of others similar to the examinee. Other comparisons allow us to determine the person's individual strengths and weaknesses.
Are particular disorders associated with onset of neuropsychological impairment? If a person get tested, will they necessarily have a diagnosis?
Yes, these include, but are not limited to, Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, diabetes, cardiac conditions, stroke, neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, and chronic mental illness, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
If a person get tested, will they necessarily have a diagnosis? a person get tested, will they necessarily have a diagnosis?
No. Having an evaluation performed does not necessarily mean that there will be reason to confer a diagnosis. Those for whom a diagnosis is not warranted will benefit from learning about their individual cognitive strengths and weaknesses.
How long will the evaluation take?
Neuropsychological assessment involves the administration of paper-and-pencil tests to evaluate various cognitive functions, such as attention, language, speed of information processing, frontal lobe functioning, and personality/emotional functioning. Moreover, it includes a clinical interview, the completion of a history form, and a collateral interview. For older individuals in a hospital setting, the procedure lasts around 30-120 minutes.
Will my health insurance cover the cost of the evaluation?
For hospitalized patients and those in skilled nursing facilities, Medicare – Part B typically covers 80% of the allowable costs. Secondary insurance may cover an additional portion of the remaining 20%. Prior to the evaluation, please consult with your health insurance provider with regard to special guidelines or authorization.
How do you protect my privacy? Are there exceptions to privacy?
What is the cost for an evaluation?
Unless the insurer is Medicare, we do not directly bill your health insurance company and provide consultation on a fee-for-service basis. However, at your request, we will provide you with a bill that includes the necessary information for you to submit to your health insurance company for reimbursement. Prior to the evaluation, please consult with your health insurance provider with regard to special guidelines or authorization.