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What is a Neuropsychological Evaluation?

The neuropsychological evaluation is used to assess cognitive functioning for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to the following:

  • To accurately diagnose presenting cognitive challenges or limitations, which may be a result of a developmental disorder, disease process, trauma or some other form of a brain anomaly. 
  • To develop a an evidence-based academic plan for children as well as adults, that gives specific recommendations about the types of accommodations, instructional strategies, and educational settings that will be the best setting for the individual to realize their academic potential.
  • To develop an evidence-based plan for cognitive remediation, brain retraining, or other forms of therapeutic interventions for individuals at various ages and stages, again, to support optimal functioning and well-being.
  • To establish a baseline of cognitive functioning which can be compared over time.
  • To help determine an individual’s ability to return to school, work, or premorbid functioning after a brain injury or disease process.
  • To provide documentation for the purpose of litigation in cases of brain injury *(Dr. Palmer and her associates do not practice in this area of neuropsychology.  We will be happy to assist you with referrals to other neuropsychologists who will be able to assist if you are seeking a neuropsychological evaluation for litigation purposes.)

The neuropsychological evaluation is conducted by an experienced, trained neuropsychologist who is a state-licensed, doctoral level practitioner.   At this time, only Drs. Palmer and Dunn conduct the neuropsychological evaluations at the Madison office. We do not employ psychometricians to administer the evaluation.  

An abbreviated evaluation, which typically involves an examination of a specific cognitive function, such as attention, may take as few as 3 hours, while the comprehensive evaluation can involve 8-10 hours or more to complete the testing.

A comprehensive evaluation process begins with an intake interview , where we determine the purpose of the evaluation and what measures will be administered in order to address the questions presented at the intake.  The intake process is typical a one-hour meeting with parents or guardians for pediatric or adolescent evaluations. For adult evaluations, the first hour of the first evaluation session is typically when we meet for the intake session.  Every evaluation involves a review of all aspects of the individual's history, as well as a review of available and relevant records, consultation with referral sources,  in-depth testing, detailed report and a feedback/report review session.  There are some occasions that school based or work-based observations might be scheduled to supplement what we learn from the testing, as we consider the person-environment factor to be important to this process.

What exactly is tested in a Neuropsychological Evaluation?

Cognitive functions, which are tested, include memory, language skills, sensory/perceptual skills, visual spatial abilities, mental speed/efficiency/flexibility, physical/mental coordination, listening skills, attention and concentration, problem solving skills, reasoning, general intellectual skills. Personality/behavior is also assessed.

What type of measures are administered as part of a Neuropsychological Evaluation?

We use the most recent versions of standardized tests and measures of intellectual ability, educational achievement, and the various cognitive, personality, and behavior functions listed above.  Some of the measures are administered on a desktop computer, others via the IPad, as well as traditional pencil and paper forms.  There are also measures that involve manipulatives, puzzles, and manual problem-solving activities.  The interaction between the evaluator and client across the evaluation process as well as the way the individual interacts with the evaluation measures yield invaluable information as well.  

When is a Neuropsychological Evaluation recommended?
A neuropsychological evaluation is recommended when there is a question about an individual’s cognitive functioning. It provides information about an individual’s abilities, which may not be available through neurological or medical examination and tests. Conditions, which may prompt a referral, include, but is not limited to:

  • Brain injury from trauma, stroke, anoxia
  • Concussion
  • Atypical development of thinking, learning, and social behavior
  • Neurological conditions, disorders, diseases
  • Learning Disorders as well as to identify learning styles
  • Attention Deficit Disorders
  • Memory Disorders


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