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Neuropsychological Tests

Neuropsychological testing can help your doctor find out how damage to your brain is affecting your ability to reason, concentrate, solve problems, or remember.

Doctors use a wide variety of tests for neuropsychological testing. In most cases you will take a series of tests, rather than a single test.

This type of testing is most often done by a psychologist with special training in this area.

Why It Is Done

This testing gives your doctor an overall picture of how well your brain works. Your doctor can use the results to decide the best treatment or rehabilitation program for you.

Your doctor may recommend this testing if:

  • You have a disease that can damage the brain, such as:
  • You have an injury that may have damaged your brain, such as a concussion or a more serious brain injury.
  • You have a history of drug or alcohol abuse that may have affected your brain.
  • You have been exposed to poisons, chemicals, or pollution that can cause brain damage.
  • You have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or problems in school.
  • Your doctor wants to see how well treatment for one of these diseases, conditions, or injuries is working.

How To Prepare

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean.

Make sure you eat first and are well rested so that being tired or hungry doesn't affect testing.

Remember to bring your glasses or hearing aids if you use them.

How It Is Done

There are many kinds of neuropsychological tests. The ones you take will depend on the particular brain functions that your doctor wants to check.

The tests are meant to test your limits, so don't be discouraged if they seem hard.

Most of the tests involve answering questions or performing tasks. You may be taking some of the tests on a computer, using pencil and paper, or using other objects. Here are some examples of brain functions and some tests that check them:

Tests for attention span and memory. You might be asked to:

  • Repeat a series of numbers, letters, or words.
  • Look at some simple drawings and then draw them from memory.

Tests for language and speech skills. You might be asked to:

  • Name pictures that the examiner shows you.
  • Point to a picture named by the examiner.
  • Name as many words as you can think of that begin with a certain letter or are in a certain category (for example, animals or fruits).

Test for reasoning, planning, and organizing skills. You might be asked to:

  • Sort cards according to colors or shapes on the cards.
  • Use a pencil to connect a series of numbered or lettered dots on a sheet of paper.
  • Stack colored discs in a certain pattern.

It may take several hours to take all the tests. But you may not have to take all of them at once.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 29, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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