Investigating the relationship between the brain and the mind. A scientific approach to the overlap of psychology and neurology.
— What Is Neuropsychology?
Neuropsychology is the field of understanding and treating the brain and behavior, which largely focuses on understanding disease and injury to the brain, whether from obvious causes (such as a tumor or stroke) or from subtle causes (such as a concussion or undiagnosed seizure disorder). Most recently the field of neuropsychology has been influenced by cognitive psychology, the study of normal brain development and functioning, and the field of rehabilitation psychology, which assists people in resuming or developing new life roles following disease or injury. Most neuropsychologists are first trained as clinical psychologists, and then receive additional training, through coursework, practical training, and post-doctoral training in neuropsychology.
We use the WPPSI, WISC, WIAT, WJC, WJA, NEPSY, WRAML, DKEFS, BRIEF, VMI, BASC, ABAS, Test of Everyday Attention, TMT A/B, CTOPP, GORT, CELF, CASL, BRACKEN, and various others. To assess for an autism spectrum disorder we may use any of the following gold standard screening tools: the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), ADI-R, SCQ, and SRS. We administer a fixed battery of tests and add additional procedures based on the underlying question, clinical information from parents and teachers, and areas that are of concern that are identified as testing is underway.
Neuropsychological testing provides a window into how the brain functions, including providing quantitative information about cognitive (intellectual) abilities, memory and motor skills, as well as diagnostic input. Neuropsychological testing provides a “profile” of a person’s cognitive potential and deficits, which allows for a better understanding of the underlying neurological mechanism for an individual’s concerns, and can greatly assist in creating a pragmatic treatment plan; formulating an educational plan and curriculum; or for monitoring the benefit (or not) of other treatment interventions.
The neuropsychological evaluation measures a person’s intellectual and higher cognitive skills as they pertain to functioning needed in everyday life. Crystallized intelligence are skills such as verbal comprehension, abstract reasoning, judgment, and perceptual-motor integration. Higher cognitive functions that constitute more fluid intelligence include memory for new information, problem solving, planning, decision-making, evaluation, and other executive skills. Additional measures of emotional functioning, behavioral functioning, achievement, and social-adaptive functioning are usually assessed. For those adolescents or young adults looking towards entering the workforce, additional testing may include vocational assessment of aptitudes, interests, and functional abilities to be considered in conjunction with the neuropsychological evaluation.
A neuropsychological assessment is used to plan and implement neuropsychological intervention. This can take a variety of forms, such as helping students develop new strategies to assure success in school, developing a plan for transition to explore various fields of work, or working within a training program or college program to develop strategies for success.
Often, behavioral problems are found to have at their root a learning problem, and if we can understand the nature of the learning problem, and structure the student’s subsequent learning in more successful ways, we can reduce or eliminate the behavior problem.
The field of Cognitive Rehabilitation and Remediation works to develop individually tailored learning strategies, built on the person’s strengths, to improve performance in everyday life – whether at school, work, or socially. Cognitive Rehabilitation also includes educating the individual and their family about their strengths and weaknesses, and developing awareness about the need for strategies and supports.
Making available these highly specialized NeuroRehab services can make a huge difference in how a child, adolescent, or young adult with neurological disability comes to think and feel about themselves, and ultimately how they can make their way in the world.