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What Is Neuropsychology

Clinical Neuropsychology is a specialty field within Clinical Psychology that looks at the relationship between the brain and behavior.  Illnesses, injuries, and diseases of the brain can have a significant impact on how people feel, think and behave.  Neuropsychologists often work closely with physicians who refer patients may have a suspected or a known disorder of the brain.  While your physician may order images of the brain such as a CT Scan or MRI of the brain, these tools do not measure how changes to the brain can affect memory, problem solving, controlling emotions, mental fatigue, coming up with words, reading, your ability to cope with stress, and many other brain systems needed to be successful in day-to-day life. While some disorders of the brain can produce obvious symptoms such as slurred speech or facial dropping, there are a large number of disorders of the brain were the person “seems fine” in casual conversation but struggles with going back to work or has difficulty completing tasks at home. Many patients and their family members say that they are “different” following an illness or injury, they have difficult in explaining “how” they are different.  For this reason, you may be asked to complete Neuropsychological testing.

Neuropsychological Assessment is frequently a lengthy process of taking tests that show a person’s strengths and weakness.  Because of the brain’s amazing complexity, a large number of tests are needed to sample areas that you may be having problems in.  For example, many people note changes in memory, coming up with words, changes in mood, decreased concentration, difficult multi-tasking, fatigue, thinking speed, visual processing, decreased reaction time, making good decisions, and many other abilities.  We all realize that short-term memory abilities can be less efficient as you age.  As a result, your test results are compared people in your age group.  Your background and history play an import role in analyzing test scores.  An English Teacher and an Auto Mechanic may have very different skills sets; that is why the Neuropsychologist may ask a large number of questions about your background such as work history, educational background, medical illnesses, and so on.

If problems are found, the Neuropsychological assessment can also be a very effective tool in planning your recovery.  The Neuropsychologist might also be able to give you strategies to cope with changes from your illness.

Injury to the brain can produce drastic changes to your work and social life.  It is not uncommon for people to become depressed, anxious, and worry about their future.  Neuropsychologist can also work with people in counseling to help people to adapt and cope with the process of recovery.