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Your Questions About Neuropsychological Testing, Answered

In the treatment of mental health, or health of any kind, it’s important for a professional to have an understanding of what their patient is going through so they can properly apply care.

Neuropsychology is a field of study that looks at changes in cognitive functions and behavioral patterns after injuries or disease impact the central nervous system. Neuropsychological testing is used for patients whose condition (particularly depression) has been resistant to other forms of treatment, or for chronic conditions that have been unresponsive to other treatments.

The actual process of neuropsychological testing is relatively simple. The tests themselves are typically pen and paper, and involve the administration of standardized procedures and questions. This

But, as with any medical procedure, it’s important to know the details and leave no point unclarified. So, here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions about neuropsychological testing.

A laptop sits on a table as a mental health professional fills out a neuropsychological evaluation for a patient.
Neuropsychological testing can give you and your mental health provider a better understanding of a wide variety of cognitive functions.

What do neuropsychological tests evaluate?

A neuropsychological test can cover a broad range of cognitive functions, including:

  • Intelligence
  • Executive functions (like conceptualization)
  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Language
  • Perception
  • Sensorimotor functions
  • Motivation
  • Emotion
  • Personality
  • Overall quality of life

In terms of an individual evaluation, certain areas are focused on more based on the referral and the condition that lead the patient to seek a neuropsychological exam in the first place. The patient and doctor work together to determine what areas the patient needs evaluated most.

A man's arm with a wristwatch on it
Any time spent on your mental health is an investment in your future. Neuropsychological testing can have a huge benefit in very little time.

How long does a neuropsychological test take?

Typically, neuropsychological exams take a few hours to complete. The length of the evaluation depends on a few things, including the condition of the patient, and the depth of the issues that need to be evaluated.

Occasionally, it will take multiple sessions to complete a neuropsychological exam.

What leads to a recommendation for a neuropsychological exam?

As previously stated, neuropsychological exams are typically applied to patients who have not seen adequate results from other forms of treatment. These evaluations are beneficial because they help to determine the source of issues, as well as specific patterns that can help a professional apply more specific, targeted forms of aid.

For example, just a few things a neuropsychological exam can do are:

  • Determine the positive and negative effects of various forms of treatment
  • Determine how interrelated issues are, like depression and a disease that affects the central nervous system, and how compounding circumstances affect each other
  • Reveal small scale (daily life rather than long-term, broad life changes) ways in which a patient may need extra assistance
  • Provide a baseline psychological evaluation that can be used to show change over time
Two women sit across the table from one another talking
If you have any concerns leading up to your neuropsychological exam, chat with your mental health provider.

How can you prepare for a neuropsychological examination?

In preparing for an exam, it is important to remember the overall goal of the evaluation: conveying to the doctor, in the clearest manner possible, your condition and the history of treatments you’ve received.

It’s important to have a complete list of treatments you’ve received and medications you’ve received so the doctor has a basis for where you are in the rehabilitation process.

Patients should also have a good understanding of their own shortcomings in conveying the full extent of their condition, and obstacles that could arise as they attempt to discuss their condition.

Patients should be as clear as possible with their doctor about the possibility of complications, and work with the doctor to find ways around these.

Neuropsychological testing is a powerful mental health tool. Taking advantage of everything neuropsychological testing has to offer is something you can do better understand yourself and keep invest in your mental health.