What will the neuropsychological examination involve?

A licensed psychologist chooses the tests that will be given, conducts an interview, and writes a report that summarizes the results. The tests are scored by a trained technician called a psychometrist or by a postdoctoral fellow currently in training under the supervising neuropsychologist.

The neuropsychologist will talk with you to understand any concerns you and your family members might have about your cognitive functioning, your medical history, and educational background. He or she will also review your medical record. If a family member comes to the evaluation with you, the neuropsychologist may ask for your permission to interview him or her as well.

You will work with a psychometrist, who will have you complete several tests. The tests typically involve writing, working on a computer, solving puzzles, or answering questions. Most people find some of the tests to be quite easy and others to be difficult. It is important to work as hard as possible on all of the tests in order for the results to be most informative.

Most of the tests used in neuropsychology are standardized, which means they are given the same way to everybody. The tests are also norm-referenced, which means that a patient’s performance on those tests will be compared to the performance of other people who are about the same age and, sometimes, people who have the same educational background. The test results are used to answer many types of questions.

You will also complete questionnaires about mood and psychological symptoms. Parents of children referred for neuropsychological examinations often complete questionnaires about their children's behavior.

The length of time for testing varies considerably based on the nature of the reason for the examination. Typically, evaluations take approximately 3 to 5 hours, depending on which tests need to be administered and how quickly you are able to work comfortably. You are encouraged to take breaks as necessary and, if the testing session extends on to the afternoon, you will be offered a lunch break.

What should I do to prepare for the neuropsychological examination?

  • Get a good night's sleep.
  • Try to eat a good breakfast.
  • Take all of your medications as usual unless you are directly instructed to do otherwise.
  • If you use glasses, contact lenses, or hearing aids, make sure you have them with you.
  • If you have had any neuropsychological, psychological, or academic testing done in the past, bring those records with you.
  • If your child is undergoing the testing, and he or she has completed an intellectual evaluation, psychoeducational evaluation, Multifactored Evaluation (MFE), or Individual Education Program (IEP), please bring along copies of the results of those evaluations.
  • If you want the results of your neuropsychological examination to be sent to a healthcare provider outside of the Cleveland Clinic, you will need to sign a release form giving the neuropsychologist permission to share your results. Please have their contact results available.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/22/2014.

References

  • Brainline.org. A Guide to Neuropsychological Testing Accessed 2/20/2014.
  • Society for Clinical Neuropsychology, Division 40 of the American Psychological Association. Neuropsychology Brochures: Pediatric Neuropsychology Brochure and Adult Neuropsychology Brochure Accessed 2/20/2014.
  • Kulas JF, Naugle RI. Indications for neuropsychological assessment. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 2003;70(9):785-786.
  • This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. For additional health information, please contact the Center for Consumer Health Information at the Cleveland Clinic (216) 444-3771 or toll-free (800) 223-2273 extension 43771. If you prefer, you may visit www.clevelandclinic.org/health/ or www.clevelandclinicflorida.org. This document was last reviewed on: 1/22/2014 #4893

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