A neuropsychological evaluation is a comprehensive diagnostic assessment of a person's cognitive, physical, emotional and behavioral functioning. A neurologist, neurosurgeon, trauma surgeon, primary care physician or other medical doctor or their assistant may request a neuropsychological evaluation as a diagnostic aid to obtain information about a person's brain functioning. A neuropsychological evaluation is often recommended when symptoms or conditions include:

  • Changes in attention, focus, or concentration.
  • A gradual loss of memory or recall that aren't consistent with normal aging.
  • Suspected or confirmed changes in thinking or emotions after a traumatic injury to the head or brain.
  • Abrupt or progressive changes in emotions or personality without a clear reason.
  • Non-traumatic medical disorders, such as: strokes, tumors, seizures, multiple sclerosis, encephalitis, meningitis, etc. that affect thinking, feelings or behavior.
  • Possible signs of abnormal aging or dementia.
  • Complex brain conditions such as concussions from an athletic injury, attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, failure in school, etc. 

A neuropsychological assessment consists of three stages: initial consultationneuropsychological testing, and review of test findings.

  1. The initial consultation is a one hour appointment with the doctor during which information is gathered about a person's concerns or difficulties and medical background and history. A clinical examination is then conducted and the findings are used to determine what specific tests will be used to answer the referring questions from the patient's doctor. A family member is encouraged to attend this appointment to help provide information about the patient. 
  2. Neuropsychological testing is based on the patient's concerns as well as those of their referring physician and the information gathered during the initial consultation. It is typically completed in 3-6 hours and may be completed in one-full day or two-half day sessions based on the patient's schedule demands and energy level. All tests are individually administered and designed to provide detailed information about how a person's brain works. Many tests are "hands on" and require assembling, sorting, organizing, etc. A typical evaluation involves assessment of:
    • Intellectual abilities
    • Attention and concentration
    • Learning
    • Memory
    • Higher level reasoning
    • Problem solving
    • Language abilities 
    • Visual-spatial skills
    • Motor functioning
    • Sensory skills 
    • Emotionality and personality functioning 
  3. The review consists of a forty-five minute appointment in which the doctor reviews the diagnostic test results with the patient and/or a family member. This appointment allows an opportunity for further questions and to discuss the implications of the assessment that includes any ongoing concerns as well as future directions and recommendations.