What is Neuropsychological Testing?

A neuropsychological evaluation is a test to measure how well a person’s brain is working. The abilities tested include reading, language usage, attention, learning, processing speed, reasoning, remembering, problem-solving, mood and personality and more.

What mental functions are assessed in a neuropsychological exam?

If you are undergoing a neuropsychological assessment, the mental functions tested include:

  • General intellect
  • Reading/reading comprehension
  • Attention/concentration
  • Learning and memory
  • Reasoning
  • Processing speed
  • Visuospatial skills
  • Motor speed and dexterity
  • Mood and personality
  • Executive functions, which are higher-level skills you use to organize and plan, manage your time, problem solve, multi-task, make judgments and maintain self-control.
  • Language usage and understanding of what others say

What common complaints might signal the need for a neuropsychological test?

See your healthcare professional for a referral for a neuropsychological assessment if you or a loved one show any of the following signs:

  • Changes in short-term memory, asks the same question repeatedly
  • Poor attention and concentration. Doesn’t appear to listen. Gets confused in conversation.
  • Confusion
  • Can’t recognize things
  • Poor judgment/decision-making
  • Visuospatial difficulties including difficulty drawing or using a map
  • Can’t recognize familiar persons
  • Frequently loses items, gets lost easily
  • Language difficulty. Has difficulty speaking or finding words or cannot understand what others say
  • New difficulty with understanding or managing bills or finances.

What should I do to prepare for the neuropsychological examination?

  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Try to eat a good breakfast
  • Take all of your medications as usual unless you are directly instructed to do otherwise.
  • If you use glasses, contact lenses, or hearing aids, make sure you have them with you.
  • If you have had any neuropsychological, psychological or academic testing done in the past, bring those records with you.

How are test results interpreted?

Most of the tests used in neuropsychology are standardized, which means they are given the same way to everybody. The tests are also norm-referenced, which means that a patient’s performance on those tests will be compared to the performance of other people who are about the same age and, sometimes, people who have the same educational background. The test results are used to answer many types of questions.