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Neuropsychological testing can help your doctor find out how damage to your brain is affecting your ability to reason, concentrate, solve problems, or remember.
Doctors use a wide variety of tests for neuropsychological testing. In most cases you will take a series of tests, rather than a single test.
This type of testing is most often done by a psychologist with special training in this area.
This testing gives your doctor an overall picture of how well your brain works. Your doctor can use the results to decide the best treatment or rehabilitation program for you.
Your doctor may recommend this testing if:
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean.
Make sure you eat first and are well rested so that being tired or hungry doesn't affect testing.
Remember to bring your glasses or hearing aids if you use them.
There are many kinds of neuropsychological tests. The ones you take will depend on the particular brain functions that your doctor wants to check.
The tests are meant to test your limits, so don't be discouraged if they seem hard.
Most of the tests involve answering questions or performing tasks. You may be taking some of the tests on a computer, using pencil and paper, or using other objects. Here are some examples of brain functions and some tests that check them:
Tests for attention span and memory. You might be asked to:
Tests for language and speech skills. You might be asked to:
Test for reasoning, planning, and organizing skills. You might be asked to:
It may take several hours to take all the tests. But you may not have to take all of them at once.
You might feel nervous if you know your ability to think is being judged by the person giving you the tests. The tests are meant to test your limits, so don't be discouraged if they seem hard.
You may get tired, because the tests can take several hours.
If you are being checked for a health condition, such as Alzheimer's disease, you may be afraid of what the tests will show.
Your doctor may not be able to find the cause of your symptoms, because some problems are hard to diagnose. Also, other tests may be needed to accurately diagnose your problem.
Test results give your doctor an overall picture of how well you are able to think, reason, and remember. Your doctor may discuss some results with you right away. Complete results may not be available for several weeks.
Testing can also identify mood or emotional problems.
Many conditions can change the results of a neuropsychological test. For example, depression can slow your thinking. But your doctor will consider your other symptoms when looking at the test results.
You may not be able to have the tests or the results may not be helpful if:
This type of testing can cost $1,000 or more, and your insurance may not cover it.
Testing can answer questions you may have about your future, such as:
Another type of psychological testing is mental health assessment. It focuses more on your emotions and behavior, while neuropsychological testing focuses more on your ability to think, reason, and remember. For more information, see the topic Mental Health Assessment.
Other Works Consulted
Sadock BJ, Sadock VA (2007). Clinical neuropsychological testing. In Kaplan and Sadock’s Synopsis of Psychiatry: Behavioral Sciences/Clinical Psychiatry, 10th ed., pp. 178–189. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Weiner MF, Lipton AM, eds. (2003). The Dementias: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Research, 3rd ed. Washington, DC:
American Psychiatric Publishing.
November 29, 2011
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
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