The York University Psychology Clinic is pleased to announce the addition of neuropsychological assessment services to our roster of services. We provide neuropsychological assessments across the life span beginning with children as young as 4 years of age all the way up to our seniors population who may be struggling with memory concerns.
What is a neuropsychologist and how can they help?
A neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist with expertise in brain and behaviour relationships and knowledge in the interplay among neurological, psychological, and behavioural factors (Ontario Psychological Association, 2016). Clinical neuropsychologists use this knowledge in the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and/or rehabilitation of individuals across the life span with neurological, medical, neurodevelopmental, and psychiatric conditions, as well as other cognitive and learning disorders.
What is the purpose of a neuropsychological evaluation?
A neuropsychological evaluation is used to characterize a person’s neurocognitive, emotional, and behavioural profile. This information, along with information provided by other medical/healthcare providers, is used to identify and diagnose neurobehavioral disorders and implement intervention strategies. Some reasons you may be referred for a neuropsychological evaluation include:
- To determine if there are problems in cognitive, emotional, or behavioural function and how functional changes relate to the structural and functional integrity of the brain
- To define strengths and weaknesses across a variety of cognitive domains (e.g. attention, executive function, memory, visuospatial function, language)
- To assist in a differential diagnosis (i.e. to determine whether possible mental and behavioural changes are related to a neurological/neurodevelopmental disorder, depression, or treatment)
- To guide treatment for personal, educational, or vocational needs
- To document changes in functioning over time
- To provide a baseline against which subsequent evaluations can be compared
What does a neuropsychological evaluation assess?
Standardized tests (i.e. tests that are given in the same manner to all individuals and scored in the same manner) are used in a neuropsychological evaluation. An individual’s scores on these tests are interpreted by comparing their score to that of healthy individuals of a similar background. Tests are typically used to assess functioning in the following areas:
- Visuospatial functions - how we see relationships between objects, putting things together, finding our way in the environment
- Attention - focusing, shutting out distractions, and noticing details
- Memory - remembering people, places, lists, events
- Problem-solving and other high-level thinking abilities known as executive functions - goal-directed behavior including planning, abstraction, and organizing
- Language - both expression and understanding of words, ideas, and thoughts
- Sensory-perceptual functions
- Motor functions
- Personality/emotional functioning
Assessment of academic skills is typically performed as well and may depend on the referral questions presented.
Neuropsychologists do not do brain scans to see if there is brain damage. This type of scanning, using a CT scan or MRI, is always done by a neuroradiologist, a medical doctor who is trained to understand the scans. A neuropsychologist can relate findings on one of these scans to the results of cognitive testing.
What are the typical types of referrals seen through this service?
- Anyone concerned about their cognitive skills
- A person with neurological and medical conditions, such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, strokes, brain infections such as meningitis, encephalitis
- A person with diabetes, hormonal disorders
- Fetal alcohol syndrome, toxic exposures
- Memory concerns as a person ages
- Concussions/ mild traumatic brain injury
A concussion is a mild form of a traumatic brain injury due to a blow to the head or body. Concussions may result in a variety of physical (headaches, dizziness, nausea), cognitive (trouble concentration, memory problems), or psychological (irritability, depression) symptoms. Most individuals who sustain this injury recover within a few weeks, however, a substantial minority may have a prolonged recovery. Our services are targeted to children, adolescents, and adults who have suffered a concussion(s) during athletic participation or in daily life and are experiencing ongoing difficulties with physical, psychological, and/or cognitive functioning. Our services include:
- A comprehensive assessment of current cognitive and psychological functioning.
- Evidence-based psychoeducation about concussion injury and recovery.
- Individualized treatment recommendations focused on helping the individual feel and function better.
Please note we do not currently provide assessments for Work Safe and Insurance Board Claims.