What is Neuropsychology?

© Nevit Dilmen [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Clinical neuropsychology is a specialty field within psychology that is concerned with cognitive functions (mental abilities, such as memory or attention). Clinical neuropsychologists are licensed psychologists who have additional training in the functions and structures of the brain, neurological disorders, and how the mental abilities can be measured and understood using neuropsychological tests.

Examples of the kinds of questions a neuropsychological evaluation assists in answering:

  • Does a child, teenager, or adult have a learning disorder or ADHD/ADD? What kinds of accommodations or assistive devices would be most helpful at school or work?
  • Does a patient have dementia or is the memory loss a reversible condition?
  • What kind of dementia is present? (Cognitive evaluations can provide unique information to help specify what kind of disorder is present; this helps treatment teams understand what interventions are likely to be most helpful.)
  • Does a child or adult have a neurodevelopmental disorder such as Asperger’s? What kinds of help are available and recommended?

Determining Cognitive changes:

  • Has a person’s cognitive abilities changed as a result of an event (such as concussion, traumatic brain injury, neurosurgery, or mild stroke) or chronic condition (seizure disorder)?
  • If changes are present, what intervention(s) would be specifically helpful during recovery?
  • What are a patient’s cognitive strengths as well as their weaker cognitive areas? How do these interact with the person’s psychological functioning?
  • Does an older adult need additional assistance managing their daily activities? Is restricted driving /giving up driving recommended?