Frequently Asked Questions

Clinical Neuropsychology

What Is Clinical Neuropsychology?Clinical neuropsychology is a specialty 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 objectively testing memory and thinking skills. A very detailed assessment of abilities is done, and the pattern of strengths and weaknesses is used in important health care areas, such as diagnosis and treatment planning. The clinical neuropsychologist conducts the evaluation and makes recommendations. He or she may also provide treatment, such as cognitive rehabilitation, behavior management, or psychotherapy.
Why Have I Been Referred?Clinical neuropsychology is a specialty 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 objectively testing memory and thinking skills. A very detailed assessment of abilities is done, and the pattern of strengths and weaknesses is used in important health care areas, such as diagnosis and treatment planning. The clinical neuropsychologist conducts the evaluation and makes recommendations. He or she may also provide treatment, such as cognitive rehabilitation, behavior management, or psychotherapy.
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 (e.g., perception)
° 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 like 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 methods, your strengths and weaknesses can be identified.
What Will the Results Tell Me?Test results can be used to understand your situation in a number of ways.
° Testing can identify weaknesses in specific areas. It is very sensitive to mild memory and thinking problems that might not be obvious in other ways. When problems are very mild, testing may be the only way to detect them. For example, testing can help determine whether memory changes are normal age-related changes or if they reflect a neurological disorder. Testing might also be used to identify problems related to medical conditions that can affect memory and thinking, such as diabetes, metabolic or infectious diseases, or alcoholism.
° Test results can also be used to help differentiate among illnesses, which is important because appropriate treatment depends on accurate diagnosis. Different illnesses result in different patterns of strengths and weaknesses on testing. Therefore, the results can be helpful in determining which areas of the brain might be involved and what illness might be operating. For instance, testing can help to differentiate among Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and depression. Your physician will use this information along with the results of other tests, such as brain imaging and blood tests, to come to the most informed diagnosis possible.
° Sometimes testing is used to establish a “baseline,” or document a person‘s skills before there is any problem. In this way, later changes can be measured very objectively.
° Test results can be used to plan treatments that use strengths to compensate for weaknesses. The results help to identify what target problems to work on and which strategies to use. For example, the results can help to plan and monitor rehabilitation or tofollow the recovery of skills after a stroke ortraumatic brain injury.
° Studies have shown how scores on specific tests relate to everyday functional skills, such as managing money, driving, or readiness to return to work. Your results will help your doctors understand what problems you may have in everyday life. This will help guide planning for assistance or treatment.
What Should I Expect?A neuropsychological evaluation usually consists of an interview and testing. During the interview, information that is important for the neuropsychologist to consider will be reviewed. You will be asked about your symptoms, medical history, medications, and other important factors. Testing involves taking paper~and~ pencil or computerized tests and answering questions. The time required depends on the problem being assessed. In general, several hours are needed to assess the many skills involved in processing information. Some tests will he easy while others will he more complex. The most important thing is try your best. Bring glasses or hearing aids if you use them. Try to rest and relax before your evaluation. You will probably find testing interesting, and the detailed information that is gathered will contribute to your care.

Pediatric Neuropsychology

What Is Pediatric Neuropsychology?Pediatric neuropsychology is a professional specialty concerned with learning and behavior in relationship to a child’s brain. A pediatric neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist with expertise in how learning and behavior are associated with the development of brain structures and systems. Formal testing of abilities such as memory
and language skills assesses brain functioning. The pediatric neuropsychologist conducts the evaluation, interprets the test results, and makes recommendations. The neuropsychologist may work in many different settings and may have different roles in the care of your child. Sometimes, the pediatric neuropsychologist is a case manager who follows the child over time to adjust recommendations to the child’s changing needs. He or she may also provide treatment, such as cognitive rehabilitation, behavior management, or psychotherapy. Often, the neuropsychologist will work closely with a physician to manage the childs problems. Some pediatric neuropsychologists work closely with schools to help them provide appropriate educational programs for the child.
How Does a Neuropsychological Evaluation Differ From a School Psychological Assessment?School assessments are usually performed to deter- mine whether a child qualifies for special education programs or therapies to enhance school performance. They focus on achievement and skills needed for academic success. Generally, they do not diag- nose learning or behavior disorders caused by altered brain function or development.
What Is Assessed?Children are referred by a doctor, teacher, school psychologist, or other professional because of one or more problems, such as:
° Difficulty in learning, attention, behavior, socialization, or emotional control;
° A disease or inborn developmental problem that affects the brain in some way; or
° A brain injury from an accident, birth trauma, or other physical stress.
A neuropsychological evaluation assists in better understanding your child's functioning in areas such as memory, attention, perception, coordination, language, and personality. This information will help you and your child’s teacher, therapists, and physician provide treat-
ments and interventions for your child that will meet his or her unique needs.
What Is Assessed?A typical neuropsychological evaluation of a school-age child may assess these areas:
° General intellect
° Achievement skills, such as reading and math
° Executive skills, such as organization, planning, inhibition, and flexibility‘
° Attention
° Leaming and memory
° Language
° Visual—spatial skills
° Motor coordination
° Behavioral and emotional functioning
° Social skills
Some abilities may be measured in more detail than others, depending on the child’s needs. A detailed developmental history and data from the child's teacher may also be obtained. Observing your child to understand his or her motivation, cooperation, and behavior is a very important part of the evaluation. Emerging skills can be assessed in very young children. However, the evaluation of infants and
preschool children is usually shorter in duration, because the child has not yet developed many skills.
What Will the Results Tell Me About My Child?By comparing your child's test scores to scores of children of similar ages, the neuropsychologist can create a profile of your child's strengths and weaknesses. The results help those involved in your child's care in a number of ways. Testing can explain why your child is having school problems. For example, a child may have difficulty reading because of an attention problem, a language disorder, an auditory processing problem, or a reading disability. Testing also guides the pediatric neuropsychologist's design of interventions to draw upon your child’s strengths. The results identify what skills to work on, as well as which strategies to use to help your child. Testing can help detect the effects of developmental, neurological, and medical problems, such as epilepsy, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADI-ID), dyslexia, or a genetic disorder. Testing may be done to obtain a baseline against which to measure the outcome of treatment or the child's development over time. Different childhood disorders result in specific patterns of strengths and weaknesses. These pro- files of abilities can help identify a child's disorder and the brain areas that are involved. For exam- pie, testing can help differentiate between an attention deficit and depression or determine whether a language delay is due to a problem in producing speech, understanding or expressing language, social shyness, autism, or cognitive delay. Your neuropsychologist may work with your physician to combine results from medical tests, such as brain imaging or blood tests, to diagnose your child's problem. Most importantly, testing provides a better under- standing of the child’s behavior and learning in school, at home, and in the community. The evaluation can guide teachers, therapists, and you to better help your child achieve his or her potential.Test results can be used to plan treatments that use strengths to compensate for weaknesses. The results help to identify what target problems to work on and which strategies to use. For example, the results can help to plan and monitor rehabilitation or to follow the recovery of skills after a stroke or traumatic brain injury.
° Studies have shown how scores on specific tests relate to everyday functional skills, such as managing money, driving, or readiness to return to work. Your results will help your doctors understand what problems you may have in everyday life. This will help guide planning for assistance or treatment.
What Should I Expect?A neuropsychological evaluation usually consists of an interview and testing. During the interview, information that is important for the neuropsychologist to consider will be reviewed. You will be asked about your symptoms, medical history, medications, and other important factors. Testing involves taking paper~and~ pencil or computerized tests and answering questions. The time required depends on the problem being assessed. In general, several hours are needed to assess the many skills involved in processing information. Some tests will he easy while others will he more complex. The most important thing is try your best. Bring glasses or hearing aids if you use them. Try to rest and relax before your evaluation. You will probably find testing interesting, and the detailed information that is gathered will contribute to your care.