Neuropsychological testing is the use of formal tests of mental ability to assess brain functioning including Memory. A neuropsychological assessment can be an important tool in helping your doctor diagnose conditions that impact cognitive (mental) functioning. Neuropsychologists use the tests to help determine if a person is suffering from or experiencing a condition that impacts brain functioning (e.g. a traumatic brain injury, stroke or developmental conditions including learning disabilities). The process works by comparing the performance of an individual on the tests with the performance of large groups of others who have also taken the tests. The neuropsychologist will look at the test results and determine whether the person's performance looks more like the performance of a group with no conditions or more like a group with a known condition. Neuropsychological Assessment is can help to diagnose various conditions and can be used to help select the best treatment options.
Neuropsychological Testing for Dementia
Neuropsychological Testing can be used to help refine the diagnosis of memory problems by distinguishing between normal age-related memory loss and dementia. It also distinguishes between dementia and temporary memory problems caused or affected by emotional disturbance. Neuropsychological testing can also assist in distinguishing between different types of dementia, and is an effective way to monitor progressive decline and to provide important feedback regarding the efficacy of cognitive enhancing medications.
There are many causes of dementia, including degenerative diseases, vascular disease, infections, traumatic brain injury, or combinations of these conditions. Some dementias are progressive, whereas others are not. A neuropsychological evaluation provides a comprehensive assessment of cognitive (mental) functions including attention and concentration, memory, language, motor functioning, reasoning, and executive functioning. Alzheimer’s disease, strokes and trauma each produce different patterns of dysfunction. A thorough neuropsychological evaluation provides the necessary information needed to identify the actual cause of the symptoms, or what is referred to as a “differential diagnosis”.
When ordered by a physician, neuropsychological testing is covered by Medicare and paid at 80% and most private insurance companies will cover the 20% co-payment. An evaluation with a focus on memory loss and suspected dementia typically involves a one-hour diagnostic interview and approximately 6 hours of testing.