Neuropsychological Assessment Defined
Neuropsychology is a specialty within psychology focusing on how learning and behaviors are associated with brain development, organization, and functioning. A neuropsychological assessment is a comprehensive and in-depth evaluation of an individual’s processing abilities (memory, attention, sensory perception, motor skills, language, and behavioral and emotional functioning). Patterns of strengths and weaknesses in skills are interpreted from a brain-behavior point of view.
Benefits of a Neuropsychological Assessment
Neuropsychological assessments provide detailed information about an individual’s functioning in many areas that help guide intervention strategies at home, in school, and in the community. A neuropsychological assessment is in-depth in that it breaks down skills into the underlying abilities or components. This assists in identifying subtle or specific strengths and weaknesses, from which detailed recommendations for intervention, educational, and vocational planning can be developed.
A neuropsychological assessment may be helpful when there is:
- A known or suspected neurological disorder such as hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy, epilepsy/ seizure disorder, neurofibromatosis, tuberous sclerosis, or a brain tumor.
- A need to obtain baseline testing or monitor progress during medical interventions such as chemotherapy.
- A brain injury as a result of a recent or past head injury, a stroke, or an infection of the brain.
- A medical problem that may affect the individual’s learning or behavior such as diabetes, chronic heart or respiratory problems, certain genetic disorders, or treatment for childhood cancer.
- A concern about exposure to toxins such as lead, street drugs, inhalants, or exposure to toxins or alcohol prior to birth.
- Minimal progress toward educational goals or an unexpected decline in academic or cognitive functioning.
Differences between Neuropsychological and Psychological Assessments
Some of the same tests are used by psychologists and neuropsychologists; however, a neuropsychological assessment may include additional tests to obtain more detailed information. To gain a more complete picture of cognitive functioning, neuropsychological evaluations usually include a more in-depth assessment of memory, executive functioning, attention, and sensory-motor skills and are more likely to require additional appointments to complete the testing. In general, neuropsychological assessments are more detailed because they assess a broader range of skills. Since a wider range of skills are assessed, a neuropsychological assessment is lengthier, more time consuming, and more costly than a psychological evaluation. Many children and adolescents who have school or behavioral problems do not require a neuropsychological assessment to help in disability identification, gaining access to special education or 504 services, and intervention planning.
Please read our neuropsychological FAQ for more information.
ApaCenter Neuropsychological Assessments
An ApaCenter neuropsychological assessment is tailored to the individual’s needs and developmental level. A variety of methods and sources are used to gather information to guide intervention planning. The length and content of the assessment can vary depending on the context and the age of the individual. For example, if memory skills are a concern, then memory will be evaluated in greater detail.
ApaCenter neuropsychological assessments usually include:
- Developmental, family, and medical histories
- Review of previous evaluations, school records, and work samples
- Formal testing
Formal testing includes areas such as:
- Motor skills
- Language skills
- Intellectual abilities
- Academic skills
- Executive functioning (planning, organization, flexibility, and problem-solving skills)
- Attention (focusing and remaining focused, visual and auditory attention, and simple and divided attention)
- Learning and Memory (visual and auditory memory for immediate and delayed recall)
- Visual-spatial skills
- Emotional and behavioral functioning
- Social skills
- Adaptive behavior (e.g., daily living skills, self-help skills)
Once the neuropsychological testing is completed, the psychologist will write a comprehensive report. The psychologist will meet with you in person at a feedback session to go over the assessment results and answer questions. At that session, you will be given a detailed assessment report of your or your child’s strengths and weaknesses, suggestions and recommendations, and more information about you or your child’s future needs.
Please contact us at (512) 891-1500 if you have additional questions or would like to set up an appointment.