Clinical Neuropsychology

What is Clinical Neuropsychology?

It’s a specialty field within clinical psychology, that’s concerned with the relationship between the brain and behavior.  The neuropsychologist is interested in the brain’s cognitive abilities like attention, learning and memory, language, planning and problem solving, visuospatial abilities, and sensory-motor abilities. A clinical neuropsychologist has a PhD or PsyD and general training in psychology, as well as specific training in neuropsychology.

What happens during a neuropsychological evaluation?

We gather relevant information, a neuropsychological examination, analysis, incorporation of data and findings, and feedback regarding the results of the evaluation.  The doctor learns the patient’s history by reviewing records and interviewing the patient. Family members or other knowledgeable persons may be interviewed as well to provide collateral information on the patients history and symptoms.  The evaluation consists of standardized tests assessing a patient’s cognitive abilities, as well as gathering information on their mood, behavior, and/or personality. Some or all of the testing may be administered by a neuropsychology technician, under the direct supervision of the clinical neuropsychologist.

How long does a neuropsychological evaluation take?

Typically, a neuropsychological evaluation at The Pat Summitt Clinic takes anywhere from an hour to two hours.  This can vary depending on the complexity of the issues addressed by the evaluation, and the patient’s condition.

What will happen after the evaluation?

The clinical neuropsychologist will analyze all of the data and information gathered by record review, interview and examination, and put it into a comprehensive report. The neuropsychological report describes the neuropsychological strengths and weaknesses, findings with diagnostic importance, and recommendations for further evaluation and/or treatment. The clinical neuropsychologist may schedule a follow-up appointment with the patient to review the report and address any questions of concerns. This type of follow-up can also be provided over the telephone, or through other forms of communication.

Why has a neuropsychological evaluation been recommended?

Your provider referred you for a neuropsychological evaluation to help understand possible problems with your brain functioning, which may be related to concerns about your memory or other thinking abilities. Other reasons may be to assist in diagnosis, provide a baseline against which subsequent evaluations can be compared, gain a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, or guide future treatment.

Is there any way to prepare for a neuropsychological evaluation?

No, all that is required is the patient try their best during the evaluation. There are no tests the patient can do, and nothing to study to prepare for a neuropsychological evaluation. The patient should get adequate sleep the night before the evaluation, bring all assistive devices (corrective lenses and hearing aids,) and medications.  If the patient has difficulty providing information about their history, it’s helpful for a family member or a knowledgeable person to accompany them. The patient should not worry about whether they will pass the tests, as these measures cannot be passed or failed. Instead they describe how well a person performs relative to their peers.

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