Neuropsychologists are licensed clinical psychologists who focus on understanding the connection between a person’s brain (structures/functions) and the way that person thinks, feels, or behaves.
Some illnesses and injuries can affect this connection and lead to problems with cognitive functions such as attention, comprehension, learning and memory, speech and language, visual-spatial reasoning, problem solving and judgment. Brain changes may result in frustration, stress, or other emotional difficulties, which can also affect cognition. Similarly, anxiety and stress can themselves mimic brain changes.
The goal of comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation is to understand a person’s unique cognitive and social-emotional functioning to help diagnose a condition, determine an appropriate treatment plan, and/or evaluate a person’s surgical candidacy.
Diseases and Conditions Affecting Cognitive Function
There are a variety of neurological diseases and conditions that can have an impact on a person’s cognitive functions, including:
- Dementia (e.g., due to Alzheimer’s disease and other causes)
- Uncontrolled vascular risks (e.g., high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking)
- Epilepsy or seizures
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Brain tumors
- Some infections
- Traumatic brain injuries
In addition, some non-neurological conditions and cancers may affect a person’s cognitive functioning. Factors like sleep, stress, chronic pain, and certain medications may also play a role.
When Your Doctor May Refer for Neuropsychological Exam
There are a number of reasons that your doctor may refer you for a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment. However, not all symptoms of cognitive difficulty are abnormal or warrant clinical concern.
Your referring doctor will provide an initial screening to determine whether further evaluation would be beneficial. The following are some common reasons for referral to neuropsychology:
- Cognitive changes in older adulthood (ages 55+) that interfere with daily life activities and routine responsibilities
- A new or established neurological diagnosis that may be associated with cognitive challenges
- A major medical event (e.g., stroke) or injury (e.g., traumatic brain injury) that has affected cognition
- Comprehensive pre-surgical evaluation for conditions like brain tumor, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and others
Why Choose Cooper for a Neuropsychological Assessment
The Neuropsychology program is part of the Cooper Neurological Institute, which offers an array of state-of-the-art diagnostic and advanced treatment options for neurological and neurosurgical issues.
Our neuropsychologists will work closely with you and your loved ones to address any concerns about your cognitive abilities and identify additional symptoms that may point to cognitive problems. Based on this information, your neuropsychologist will determine which assessments, tests, and questionnaires would be the most effective at pinpointing any cognitive challenges you are experiencing.
These tests and assessments may evaluate mental functions like:
- Language use and understanding
- Learning and memory
- Concentration and attention
- Reasoning and problem solving
- Executive functioning
- Visuo-spatial skills
- Processing speed
- General intellect
What to Expect at Your Neuropsychology Appointment
The appointment begins with an in-depth discussion of your concerns about cognition, mood and emotional functioning, and aspects of physical health and well-being. This includes a review of medical, educational, social, and vocational history. Next, you will be taken through a series of standardized cognitive measures, which are conducted in a face-to-face, interactive format with a trained examiner.
When testing is completed, your neuropsychologist will prepare a lengthy evaluation report, describing cognitive strengths and challenges, diagnosis (if appropriate), and treatment recommendations. Including the initial consultation, appointments usually last between 3 and 5 hours.
If you are concerned about cognitive functioning in yourself or a loved one, call 800.8.COOPER (800.826.6737) or use our online appointment request form to make an appointment with your primary care provider, who will determine whether further assessment would be beneficial.