I would like to give a HUGE shout out and thank you to Dr. Renee Madathil and Dr. Jessica Serbel for talking to me about neuropsych. Dr. Madathil is an assistant professor at the University of Rochester in New York who does this type of assessment, and Dr. Serbel is a licensed psychologist who completes psychological and neuropsychological evaluations in Pennsylvania.
So, what exactly is a neuropsychological assessment? According to Dr. Madathil, “Neuropsychologists are clinical psychologists who specialize in the relationship between the brain as an anatomical structure, and brain functioning. We use principles from both psychology and neurology to assess perceived changes in cognition, emotion, and behavior.” Neuropsychological assessments are indicated when someone exhibits a change in thinking or executive functioning and to assess for personal strengths and weaknesses. Dr. Serbel noted, “Some of the most common reasons for this type of testing are to determine if there is a presence of a learning disorder, to aid in vocational planning, or to test for memory impairments.
Neuropsychological evaluations are intensive assessments to determine what is causing the underlying problem, such as a memory issue. It tends to be much more comprehensive than a typical psychological evaluation and can look at personality functioning, cognition, achievement, memory, and higher-level problem solving.
There are not specific tests included in a neuropsychological evaluation. Dr. Madathil shared that these evaluations consist of “a customized battery of validated tests in order to help answer the referral question,” which often includes a diagnostic interview, additional information from other records, and a wide variety of other assessments. Measures she uses include the California Verbal Learning Test, Trail Making Test, Delis-Kaplan Executive Functioning System, the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scales, PHQ9, and PAI. Dr. Serbel said that she uses a clinical interview, a test of intelligence, achievement scores, neurological testing, and tests of memory and personality.
If you are referred for a neuropsychological assessment, a psychologist who specializes in these types of evaluations can help answer your questions.