Neuropsychological Assessment

A neuropsychological assessment evaluates brain function. It is different from a CT or MRI or SPECT scan because the assessment measures what the brain is capable of doing, not what it looks like. It is designed to answer three major questions:

  • Is this person's brain functioning normally?
  • if not, why not (diagnosis)?
  • What can be done about any problems we find (recommendations for treatment or accommodation)?

How do these questions get answered?

In a neuropsychological assessment, we ask your brain to do some of the work it is supposed to do for you - like paying attention, learning and remembering new things, finding the words you want to say, and making decisions. We may also test your sensory abilities, strength, speed of movement and coordination. Usually we will evaluate your emotional state and personality traits, because high levels of emotional distress or pain can affect how well a person can pay attention (for example). Tests are also given to determine how much effort is being put forth in the assessment period. Typically these measures can be performed well even by individuals with severe brain injury and low scores can mean that the test findings cannot be interpreted.

How long does it take?

You will have an interview with a psychologist that usually lasts 60-90 minutes. The testing is done by Dr. Moustgaard and lasts at least 6 hours. We try to do all, or most, of the testing in one day so that we can observe the effects of fatigue on your ability to think.

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