Frequently asked questions

What is Clinical Neuropsychology?

Clinical neuropsychology is a specialist field that examines and seeks to understand the relationship between the brain and behaviour. Clinical neuropsychologists can assess cognitive performance (e.g. memory and concentration), social functioning and mood, and advise on an individual’s functioning in these areas in the context of brain-behaviour relationships.

 

When is a Clinical Neuropsychology Assessment helpful?

A clinical neuropsychology assessment is often helpful in cases where symptoms of impaired cognitive function or behaviour may have a pathological basis in the brain (i.e. that a person’s difficulties are the result of change in their brain). Typical referrals would be to assess the likelihood or to rule out a certain diagnosis, to describe the impact of a disorder on an individual’s functioning, to assess strengths and weakness of cognitive functions that are relevant for rehabilitation, or to monitor the relative stability of symptoms over time.

 

What Does a Neuropsychological Assessment Examine?

A neuropsychological assessment will include taking a history of the presenting difficulties and associated functioning. Historical information on the individual and the development of their difficulties as well as relevant existing clinical assessments will be collated. The available information will be synthesized to enable hypotheses to be made regarding likely functioning. These hypotheses are then tested through structured behavioural observations (different types of tests), that will usually include objective tests of cognitive function. The available information will then be formulated in the context of brain-behaviour relationships and an opinion and recommendations will be made in relation to the purpose of the referral.

A neuropsychological assessment is not a fixed series of tests. Instead the clinical neuropsychologist will select the most appropriate tests based on consideration of the purpose of the assessment, the abilities of the individual and the constraints of the service setting.

 

Who is Qualified to Undertake a Neuropsychology Assessment?

A neuropsychology assessment should only be undertaken by a qualified clinical psychologist who has additional specialised training and experience in clinical neuropsychology (or an individual undertaking professional training under the supervision of an appropriately qualified and trained individual).

 

What Happens After a Neuropsychology Assessment?

A detailed report will be produced and sent to the referring clinician and the patient’s GP. This will usually include a summary of the presenting difficulties and cognitive test performances, along with an opinion and recommendations if applicable.  It is standard practice to provide a feedback session to explain the results of the assessment to the patient, to discuss aspects of the assessment that they may find useful (such as relative strengths and difficulties), and to provide advice on relevant management issues (such as compensation strategies) or to signpost appropriate services for further treatment or support.