A clinical neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist with expertise in how behavior and skills
are related to brain structures and systems. Brain function is evaluated by objectively testing
memory and thinking skills. A very detailed assessment of abilities is done, and the pattern of
strengths and weaknesses is used in important healthcare areas, such as diagnosis and treatment
Neuropsychological evaluations are typically requested specifically to help your doctors and
other professionals understand how the different areas and systems of your brain are working.
Referral for testing may be triggered by changes or deficits in concentration, organization,
reasoning, memory, language, perception, coordination, or personality. This change may be due
to a number of medical, neurological, psychological, and/or genetic causes.
Testing will assess the areas of:
• General intellect
• Executive skills (sequencing, reasoning, problem solving etc.)
• Attention and concentration
• Learning and memory
• Visuo-spatial skills
• Motor and sensory skills
• Mood and personality
The specific battery will be tailored to the needs of the patient based on the referral question.
Neuropsychological testing is used in a number of ways including but not limited to:
• Identifying weaknesses in specific areas. Testing is very sensitive to mild memory an thinking
problems that might not be obvious in other ways. For example, testing may be used to
differentiate normal age related changes from a neurological disorder. Testing might also be
used to identify problems related to medical conditions that can affect memory and thinking.
• Differentiating among illnesses, which is important as accurate diagnosis best informs
treatment. For example, testing can help differentiate among Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and
• Testing is also used to establish a “baseline”, or document a person’s skills and abilities prior to
any problem. This baseline is used to measure changes objectively and specific to the
What to expect:
A neuropsychological evaluation usually consists of an interview, testing, and feedback/
explanation of the findings. During the interview, you will be asked about your symptoms
(including duration and severity), developmental and medical histories, medications, and other
important factors. Testing will involve paper-and-pencil tests, computerized tests, and answering
questions. The time required to complete the testing depends on the issues being assessed. In
general several hours are needed to assess the many skills involved in processing information.
Some tests will be easy while others will be more complex. The most important thing is to try
your best. Please be certain to bring glasses and/or hearing aids is you use them. Try to rest and
relax before your evaluation. You will probably find testing interesting, and the detailed
information gathered will contribute to your care.
(from Division 40 APA) Please visit www.div40.org for more information.