A neuropsychological assessment usually begins with a clinical interview to obtain a thorough understanding of the patient’s presenting symptoms and other medical and psychiatric history. The clinical interview is followed by the testing session, during which the patient is administered a variety of cognitive tests, including tests of reasoning, memory, attention and psychomotor ability. These tests are usually presented in a paper-and-pencil or verbal format, but can sometimes be administered on a computer. Tests of mood and personality are also an integral part of the assessment, as changes in brain function very often affect not only cognition but also emotional processing. Testing can usually be completed within one day (e.g., 3 to 8 hours), but in some circumstances can be spread over more than one testing day.

After the assessment, Dr. Dean interprets the scores and integrates all the information collected. Patterns of test performance are associated with functioning in different regions of the brain and with different diagnoses. Ultimately, all of the information obtained will be used to develop specific treatment recommendations based on the unique aspects of the case. Or in medical-legal evaluations, the information will be used to ascertain how or whether an injury has affected a person’s thinking abilities and behavior.

If you are scheduled for an assessment, make sure to bring reading glasses or contacts if you usually wear them. It is also helpful if you can bring any medical records which may pertain to your condition. If you are currently prescribed medications, continue to take them as prescribed—there is no need to change from your usual routine.