Frequently Asked Questions
A: A neuropsychological evaluation is designed to give you an in-depth look at brain functioning. While a MRI or a CT will tell you what the brain looks like (which can give you a sense of the physical well-being of the brain), it won’t tell you how well it is working. A neuropsychological evaluation can do just that, with commonly assessed processes including intellectual functioning, working memory, processing speed, general learning and memory, executive functioning, language, and visual spatial functioning. Assessments can also include basic screenings of fine motor functioning and of psychiatric conditions. The resulting neuropsychological profile will reflect the individual’s unique neurocognitive strengths and weaknesses, and can be used to develop recommendations for maximizing functioning in daily life settings and for directing any future treatment efforts. The profile will also serve as a baseline (best conceptualized as a snapshot of one’s brain functioning at a given point in time) against which future neuropsychological assessments can be compared. In this way, evaluations can be used to monitor treatment progress alongside any progressive changes to neurocognitive functioning over time.
A: Referral questions can vary considerably, and individuals who are referred for evaluation are encouraged to discuss the specific reasons for the referral directly with their referring provider. Pediatric referrals are common in cases where a child is struggling at home or at school and when there are known medical risk factors to brain development or functioning. Risk factors can include history of premature birth with low birth weight, suspected anoxic brain injury, known or suspected genetic or neurodevelopmental conditions, history of chemotherapy treatment involving methotrexate, seizure history, stroke in utero, and traumatic brain injury. Adult referrals are common for conditions known to compromise neurocognitive functioning, with examples including seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, stroke, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other disease processes causing dementia. Referral may also be made when providers wish to differentiate normal changes in functioning associated with advancing age from the beginnings of a dementia process.
A: You are not meant to study for a neuropsychological evaluation, and you should not go into an evaluation expecting to know everything you will be asked or to do well on every task you are given. The assessment provider will ask only that you do the best you can. It can be helpful for you or your child to get a good night’s sleep the night prior to the assessment, though, and to have a healthy breakfast before presenting on the testing day.
A: You should bring a list of any current medications and supplements (with dosage information), any medications you or your child will need to take that day, your insurance card and your identification card. Feel free to bring along healthy snacks (brain food!) for consumption during any testing breaks, and any desired beverages. Full-day assessments will include an hour lunch break.
A: Please check with your doctor, but unless told otherwise you should plan to take your medications and/or supplements as prescribed or typically scheduled (as you would on any other day).