Neuropsychology is the specialization of brain-behaviour relationships.  The neuropsychologist’s expertise is in the ability to evaluate individual brain functioning as it relates to processing and output.  Improper brain functioning often causes devastating effects that if not properly understood can further impair social, occupational and educational functioning.

What is a Neuropsychological Evaluation?

Through individual testing, interview, and medical record review, the neuropsychologist compiles data to elicit a brain-behaviour profile.

Testing involves evaluation of cognitive abilities.  These abilities underlie basic and complex skills involved in everyday functioning. In addition, intellectual, emotional and psychological functioning are evaluated, as well as academic functioning when appropriate.  Results are correlated with brain functioning in light of the individual’s history, including medical and psychiatric status.  A full report is written, explaining the findings and recommendations, which is followed by a feedback appointment to guide treatment and follow-up.

When is an Evaluation Appropriate?

When brain dysfunction either occurs or is suspected, a neuropsychologist can determine if there is an effect on cognition and behaviour.  Referral occurs to assist in determining diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, care and planning.

Neurological Diseases/Insults:

Neuropsychological examinations aid in understanding how a disease process has progressed and affected the individual.  It is also used for differential diagnostic purposes and to evaluate effects of treatment and recovery.  Furthermore, establishment of a baseline in individuals with a potential deteriorating illness allows for tracking of decompensation, understanding of the changes and appropriate preparation and planning for the individual.  Cognitive changes that occur without obvious explanation, such as memory loss, confusion, or disorientation, are other reasons for seeking assessment.

It should be noted that extreme stress or depression can also cause such symptoms.

Neurodevelopmental disorders occur when the brain does not develop as it should during growth.  As a result, lifelong problems may exist.  Evaluation helps to understand if and where cognitive dysfunction exists.  For example, a reading disorder may be due to problems in visuoperception, attention or specific areas of language functioning.  And many children who appear to have ADHD are misbehaving for other reasons that are not necessarily obvious and therefore they are misdiagnosed.  Proper diagnosis and profiling of the brain-behavior relationship is a necessity before the problem can be properly addressed.