Neuropsychiatric Testing

 

Neuropsychiatric Testing

Neuropsychiatric testing (also called neuropsychological testing, neuropsychiatric exam or N.P.E.) is a very safe diagnostic study which can be a very useful tool in establishing a subject’s baseline memory and cognition while also evaluating for evidence of decline in these areas.  In fact, in many instances this can be a crucial tool in establishing an accurate diagnosis.  For obvious reasons, a doctor does not have the opportunity to spend enormous amounts of time evaluating a patient in the home setting so it can be difficult to identify more subtle abnormalities or to clarify whether cognitive symptoms are resulting from changes in memory, attention, or even mood.  For patients with higher I.Q.s or more advanced educational backgrounds, a decline from functioning in the 95 percentile down to the 85 percentile may be significant to the patient, and yet this person is still functioning much better than average.  Presently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s diseasefrontotemporal dementia, or dementia with Lewy bodies, but there are medications which may slow the progression of disease.  The earlier a diagnosis is established, the better the patient will do in the long run.  Neuropsychiatric testing is also essential in clarifying whether medication side effects, mood disorders, or attention deficit disorders are contributing to cognitive symptoms.

What types of brain abilities are evaluated during neuropsychiatric testing?

  • Immediate recall
  • Short-term memory
  • Long-term memory
  • Verbal memory
  • Visual memory
  • Reading comprehension
  • Verbal fluency
  • Other language abilities
  • Ability to reason
  • Executive functioning and decision making abilities
  • Problem solving
  • Insight
  • Attention
  • Concentration
  • Mood
  • Affect
  • Behavior
  • Fine motor coordination
  • Spatial orientation

 

During neuropsychiatric testing, a patient meets with a specially trained neuropsychologist in a medical office setting.  The neuropsychologist administers a series of tests .  Most of these tests involve answering questions, reading, writing, or working with puzzles.  You should expect that some parts of the test may be difficult because one of the goals of neuropsychiatric testing is to determine the outer limits of your cognitive abilities.  The entire process typically takes about four hours to eight hours to complete, and because these tests are comprehensive, it may take several weeks for the neuropsychologist to complete the final analysis and written report.

Unlike tests taken during school, a patient does not need to prepare for neuropsychiatric testing.  In reality, most doctors do not want patients to attempt to prepare for neuropsychiatric testing because the main purpose of this process is to evaluate how a person functions in day-to-day life.  On the other hand, sleep deprivation, skipping meals, and some medications may adversely affect the results of these tests.

 

 
Laboratory Testing in the Evaluation of Memory Loss and Dementia Lumbar Puncture

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