Neuropsychological examination provides information about how the different areas and systems in the brain are working. Individuals often present with concerns about attention, concentration, memory, language, organization, perception or changes in personality or mood. The cause of these complaints may be medical, neurological, psychological or genetic.
The results of the examination serve a variety of purposes, depending on the individual situation. Several purposes of neuropsychological examination include:
Diagnosis and differentiation of cognitive and/or emotional complaints
Diagnosis of Learning Disorders, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and Autism Spectrum Disorders
Determination of school readiness and/or placement
Assessment of cognitive decline and/or dementia (e.g., Alzheimer’s)
Establishing a “baseline” to monitor changes in neuropsychological functioning over time or following treatment
Objectively measuring neuropsychological strengths and weaknesses
Planning intervention or rehabilitation
Determining capacity to return to work or make important decisions
Psychological evaluation provides information about how the emotional, behavioral, and personality functioning of the individual. This type of assessment is included in a comprehensive neuropsychological examination or patients may be referred for psychological evaluation when there is no neuropsychological question. The results of psychological evaluation may serve a variety of purposes, depending on the individual situation, including differential diagnosis and psychotherapy treatment planning.
Forensic neuropsychology is the application of the scientific, technical, and specialized knowledge of neuropsychology to address legal matters arising in civil and/or criminal proceedings.
Forensic neuropsychological evaluations are most commonly referred by attorneys, judges, or insurance companies when neuropsychological problems may have a direct influence on a legal issue. We provide forensic neuropsychological evaluations for both defendants and plaintiffs in civil proceedings, pre-trial and pre-sentencing evaluations of criminal defendants, Worker’s Compensation and disability evaluations, determination of personal/financial competency, special education due-process hearings, and other legal contexts. We also provide reviews of records of others’ neuropsychological reports; however, these reviews will not result in a definitive diagnosis in nearly all cases.
When providing forensic neuropsychological evaluations, a doctor-patient relationship is not established and patients waive their right to receive feedback regarding the results and recommendations. Results are provided, verbally or in writing, to the relevant legal representative or authority. Also, referral sources (e.g., attorneys) agree to provide all available records, past and current, including educational, work, legal, medical, and psychological records.
The verbal or written report of the findings will be unbiased and objective. We are hired for our expertise and scientific objectivity, not to render a particular opinion. We are not part of a patient’s “legal team” nor do we represent the interests of insurance companies or other institutional entities.
Disability evaluation is a narrower application of a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation. The examination usually includes measures of cognitive functioning as well as assessments of personality and emotional functioning. Usually, the objective is to determine a person’s capacity to be gainfully employed. Some evaluations are profession specific (e.g., Can I return to my job as an electrician?) while others are more general (e.g., Am I able to work in any capacity at any job?). Individuals applying for disability benefits, either through an employer or the Social Security Administration, are served by this type of evaluation.
Geriatric evaluation refers to the assessment of cognitive, emotional, and functional status of older adults. The assessment is an abbreviated version of a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation. Differential diagnoses may include normal aging, mild cognitive impairment, or early dementia. An important result of a geriatric evaluation is the provision of a range of possible interventions and recommendations provided. The recommendations are individualized but generally focus on maximization of daily functioning, a safe environment, and providing for the best quality of life possible for individuals and their families.
We offer an on-line career exploration assessment, primarily designed for middle school and high school age students (www.goodlifecareers.com). We challenge the conventional idea that focused career exploration and learning should be delayed until late adolescence or early adulthood. The assessment doesn’t force children to make premature career decisions. It is designed to provide them age-appropriate and developmentally relevant career exploration and education.
Introducing career guidance during childhood helps children think about their interests and abilities in career relevant terms. This can prevent the natural tendency to shape future career aspirations based on limited assumptions and stereotypes rather than children’s unique interests, abilities, personalities, and values. It is well known that children who excel academically are afforded additional learning opportunities, take full advantage of the education provided them, and usually have greater career and occupational options to choose from later in life. However, it’s also true that dedicated career exploration during childhood enhances academic motivation and leads to better academic performance. Early career education makes academic learning meaningful to children. Research shows that children experiencing career exploration in the natural course of their educations are more likely to be academically engaged and successful.
The assessment, completed entirely on-line, can expand and enrich children’s knowledge about the world of work, and give them the tools to think about their futures in ways responsive to their unique individual interests, personalities, abilities, and values.
Educational assessment, in our practice, is a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation aimed at understanding an individual’s educational performance and needs. The battery of tests administered may vary depending on the unique situation of the individual being assessed. Many of the tests may overlap with a school based evaluation; however, the clinical interpretation and diagnostic formulation is different. The process begins with an interview consultation, most often with parents. Then the individual completes the assessment with the neuropsychologist, usually over the course of two or three sessions. The results provide diagnostic information, such as specific learning disability or attention disorders (ADD/ADHD), and provide recommendations for intervention or accommodations when appropriate.