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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Value of Neuropsychological Evaluation

From Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology

In September, 2011, the journal Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology published the results of a study by a group of leading researchers. Their lengthy paper was entitled, Neuropsychological Assessment: A Valuable Tool in the Diagnosis and Management of Neurological, Neurodevelopmental, Medical and Psychiatric Disorders.

Those findings have since been embraced in a position paper issued by the American Psychological Association.

Why is this of interest? Because the authors stressed the value of complete neuropsychological evaluations, which they clearly distinguished from school-based, psycho-educational and other, more limited types of assessments.

Here, for example, is its section on children and adolescents:

PEDIATRICS

"In addition to measuring the neurocognitive consequences of specific central nervous system abnormalities in children, neuropsychological assessment is widely used to evaluate complex learning and behavior problems.

Neuropsychological assessment is particularly valuable when a child presents with worsening psychiatric, family, neurodevelopmental, attention, or learning issues. Coexisting learning disabilities or attention-deficit disorder can lessen the effectiveness of interventions unless the separate but overlapping conditions are recognized and their management specifically integrated into treatment plans.

Psychiatric and complex family issues may further complicate the diagnostic picture and render checklist data or school-based psychoeducational evaluation alone ineffective for diagnostic and treatment planning purposes.


Particularly when multiple factors affect learning and behavior, a lack of specificity about a child’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses limits the utility of school-based psychoeducational evaluations for treatment planning.

Further, the neuropsychological assessment’s integrative nature is ideal for explaining the impact of psychiatric and emotional factors on cognitive and academic performance."

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