Neuropsychological Tests

by Carol Gomes


Neuropsychological tests are medical procedures which can determine if any damage to your brain has affected your ability to remember, reason, solve problems or concentrate. In all probability, a doctor will ask you to go through a series of neuropsychological tests, instead of a single one. Such tests cannot be conducted by just any doctor; most patients are advised to go to a psychologist with special training and expertise in this area.

Why is it Done?

There are several reasons why a doctor may ask you to undergo a neuropsychological test. Given below are some of the most common situations that require this test:

  • In injury that could have caused brain damage, like a concussion
  • A history of alcoholism or drug abuse
  • Prolonged exposure to chemicals, poisons or other harmful pollutants
  • Learning disorders like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder evident in school kids

Very often, patients are also sent for this test, if they show the symptoms of brain damaging diseases such as:

  • AIDS
  • Alzheimer's disease or dementia
  • Brain tumor
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Strokes

Some doctors also have their patients take a neuropsychological test to gauge how well the treatment of a certain disease or injury is working

How is it Done?

Neuropsychological tests are of many kinds and the one that your doctor suggests for you may depend on the brain functions which need to be gauged. You will probably be asked to perform simple tasks or may need to answer some questions.

In case your examiner needs to gauge your memory and attention span, you will be asked to:

  • Repeat a series of letters, numbers or words
  • Draw from memory after observing a simple drawing

If you are being tested for speech and language skills, you need to:

  • Point to the pictures when they are named by the examiner
  • Name the pictures that your examiner shows to you
  • State as many words as you can for a certain category (birds, flowers)

Suppose reasoning, organizing & planning skills are being analyzed, you will be asked to:

  • Stack discs as per a certain color or pattern
  • Segregate cards according to their shape or color
  • Connect a series of dots on a sheet of paper

While there is no particular preparation you need to go through before the test, make sure that you eat and rest well, so that hunger and fatigue doesn't affect your performance. In case you use glasses or a hearing aid, make sure to take them along with you. Talk to your doctor to clear up any concerns.

References:

  1. http://www.webmd.com/brain/neuropsychological-tests

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