A neuropsychological evaluation examines various aspects of brain function. It goes beyond standard psychological assessments by providing an in-depth examination of a person’s cognitive processes. Such an assessment is provided by a trained neuropsychologist. A professional can look at individual scores and evaluate functions such as attention, language, intelligence, perception, mood and emotion, and sensorimotor function.Get A 100% Free CASE Evaluation
Other types of assessments can diagnose conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, but only a proper neuropsychological evaluation can identify the exact neurological processes and deficits involved. Many of the parameters measured are hard to in infants, but cognitive functions can be measured at subsequent stages of development to detect brain injury dysfunction and progress.
Types of Assessments
- Language Processing: Linguistic skills can be assessed with the Boston Diagnostic Aphasia Examination. Aphasia is an inability to understand/formulate language due to trauma to the brain. The exam’s five sections evaluate skills according to perceptual modalities, processing functions, and response modalities. The Boston Naming Test examines word retrieval, while the Token Test also assists in aphasia diagnoses in children as young as three years old.
- Intellectual Functioning: Suited for children and adults, the Wechsler Intelligence Scale focuses on problem solving and cognitive ability. In children, it yields an IQ score. The exam tests language, reasoning, memory, and general knowledge; its performance section looks at one’s spatial, reasoning, and problem-solving abilities.
- Executive Functions: The Wisconsin Card Sorting Test uses a series of cards for a person to match. It’s often used to assess brain injury patients, particularly those with frontal lobe dysfunction. Other assessments include the Trail Making Test-B, Porteus Maze Test, Category Test, and the WAIS Subtests of Similarities and Block Design.
- Sensory-Perceptual Functions: This series of eight tests evaluates brain and nervous system function. The original test is for children of 15 or older, but the Reitan Indiana Neuropsychological Test Battery can be administered to children ages 5-8. Administrators can evaluate how the brain/nervous system processes information through the body’s senses.
- Motor Speed and Strength: Assessments in this area include Hand Grip Strength, Index Finger Tapping, and Groove Pegboard Task.
Reasons for a Neuropsychological Evaluation
Analysts can examine a person’s strengths and weaknesses. The evaluation can assess what processes are involved in the diagnosis, a patient’s abilities before and after surgery and other neurological procedures, and an individual’s daily functioning. The assessment can provide a baseline to use as a comparison to future evaluations.
How Tests Are Administered
The evaluation process is often done via an interview and, depending on the test, pencil and paper. Tests may be administered by a technician, neuropsychologist, or psychometrist. They are standardized, so all patients are scored the same way each time the specific test is taken. Scores are compared to those of healthy people in a similar demographic and to the levels of functioning expected of the test taker.
In assessing the individual’s performance, the administrator can determine if the parameter measured is a strength or weakness. Although one can’t study for a neuropsychological test, fatigue, lack of motivation, emotional distress, movement disorders, and use of medications/illicit substances can interfere with their performance on an assessment.