What Is a Neuropsychologist?
A neuropsychologist is a physiologist who specializes in
understanding the relationship between the physical brain and behavior. The
brain is extremely complex, and disorders within the brain or nervous system
can alter behavior and cognitive function.
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, the role of a neuropsychologist is to
understand how brain structures and systems relate to behavior and thinking.
Neuropsychologists have a doctorate in
psychology and training in neuropsychology. They often work in research or
What Does a Neuropsychologist Do?
evaluate and treat people with various types of nervous system disorders. They
work closely with doctors, including neurologists.
Illnesses, injuries, and diseases of the brain
and nervous system can affect the way a person feels, thinks, and behaves. Symptoms
that may call for a neuropsychologist include:
- memory difficulties
- mood disturbances
- learning difficulties
- nervous system dysfunction
If other doctors can’t identify the cause of a condition,
a neuropsychologist can help determine a diagnosis. If a diagnosis is already
known, an assessment can still be helpful.
A neuropsychologist can help determine what
impairments you might have and how severe they are. Examples of conditions they
evaluate and treat are:
- Stroke. A stroke can affect behavior, thinking, memory, and other brain functions.
Some changes are obvious; some are subtle. An evaluation helps determine the
degree of stroke impairment.
- Parkinson’s disease. This type of progressive disorder can cause several neurological
problems. A neuropsychologist’s exam can provide a baseline in order to determine
disease progression and decreased function.
- Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia can interfere
with memory, personality, and cognitive abilities. An exam may be able to
identify Alzheimer’s in its early stages.
- Traumatic brain injuries. Injuries to the brain can cause a wide variety of symptoms. A
neuropsychologist can help determine how an injury affects functions like
reasoning or problem solving skills.
- Learning disabilities. There are many types of learning disabilities. A
neuropsychologist can help determine the type of learning disorder in order to
develop a treatment plan.
The nervous system is complex, so different
types of procedures are used to identify problems and treatment plans. Typical
evaluation is an assessment of how your brain functions. The evaluation will
include an interview. Questions will ascertain your ability to perform daily tasks,
as well as identify memory issues, and mental health concerns. The interview
will also cover information on symptoms, medical history, and medications you
evaluation includes different types of standardized tests. The tests measure many
areas of brain function, including memory and cognitive ability. Tests may also
measure personality, problem solving, and reasoning. Tests will also assess emotions
scans, such as computerized tomography scans (CT scans) or magnetic resonance
imaging (MRI), can help a neuropsychologist make a diagnosis.
Neuropsychological Procedure Results
neuropsychologist compares your test scores with those of other people who are
similar in education and age.
and test results may help determine the cause of a problem when other methods don’t
work. Mild thinking and memory problems may be subtle, but tests can identify
even mild problems with memory and cognitive abilities.
Neuropsychologists help develop a treatment plan by understanding how the brain functions and how functioning
relates to behavior. Treatment plans may include
medication, rehabilitation therapy, or surgery.