General Information

What is a Clinical Neuropsychologist?

The Clinical Neuropsychologist is an independent, professional, doctoral level (Ph.D., Psy.D., or Ed.D) psychologist who provides assessment and intervention services to people of all ages based on well-established concepts of neuroscience. In order to provide services, Clinical Neuropsychologists must, at a minimum, be licensed psychologists in the state in which they provide services.

Additionally, licensed psychologists who are Clinical Neuropsychologists should have at least two years of advanced training and experience in clinical neuropsychology. The clearest evidence of advanced training and competence in the field of clinical neuropsychology is attainment of board certification by the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology (ABCN)/American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) Diploma in Clinical Neuropsychology.

What do Clinical Neuropsychologists do?

Clinical Neuropsychologists do comprehensive evaluations of people with suspected brain/spinal cord damage or dysfunction, including the effects of traumatic injury (sports injuries, concussion, motor vehicle accidents); vascular illnesses (strokes or aneurysm); metabolic illness (heavy metal exposure); physiological insult (hypoxia); infectious disease (encephalitis or HIV); neoplastic disease (tumor); educational and/or developmental disorders (ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Down Syndrome) in children; and degenerative disorders in adults (multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s Disease).

What happens during a neuropsychological examination?

A neuropsychological evaluation will include all or most of the following:

  • Review of appropriate medical, educational, occupational records
  • History taken from the patient and friends, family, and others (with the patient’s permission)
  • The administration of standardized tests that involve oral and written questions; computers; manipulation of blocks and puzzles; testing of skills such as hearing, vision, tactile sensation, reading, and writing; and questionnaires of mood, emotion, and personality.

What happens after a neuropsychological evaluation?

The Clinical Neuropsychologist analyzes all of the data and information from the examination and studies the patterns of performance. These performance patterns are used to identify the patient’s strengths and weaknesses in terms of intellectual, emotional, and behavioral functioning. The performance patterns are also compared to known syndromes that arise from specific brain/spinal cord disorders for their diagnostic and prognostic significance.

There will be a follow-up consultation with the patient to explain these results and their implications. Depending on the reason for the referral and the patient’s permission, the Clinical Neuropsychologist may write a formal report and, with the patient’s permission, it may be shared with other professionals to aid in treatment. The report will usually include background information; patterns of findings that have diagnostic significance (if appropriate); results of testing on a wide range of cognitive functions; a summary of neuropsychological strengths and weaknesses; current mental and functional status; implications for activities of daily living, occupational/vocational effectiveness, educational, and social life; and recommendations to other health professionals for further evaluation/treatment.

What are some types of referral questions that are appropriate for a neuropsychological evaluation?

  • Does this patient have a developmental disorder affecting learning?
    • If so, how can the patient be helped to compensate for weaknesses and what is the best learning approach/environment?
  • What are the effects of a head injury, such as a concussion from a contact sport or motor vehicle accident, and what treatment might there be?
  • Do recent memory problems reflect normal age-related changes or an underlying disease?
  • Are changes in personality reflective of a psychiatric disorder or a brain-related syndrome?
  • Is a person mentally competent to handle their affairs?