What is neuropsychology?

Neuropsychology is a highly specialized field of neuroanatomical, neurological, cognitive and psychological principles. It is measurement of brain skills and translation of results to maximize daily functioning. Despite concepts of "medical" and "mental health," neuropsycholgy is literally both. It is the science of the brain's functioning as a singular whole. 


The core of neuropsychology is assesment. An individualized set of tests is given to indivuals experiencing any thinking problem that decreases function. The goal is precise analysis and interpretation of data to improve lives. Like an MRI or panel of bloodwork, neuropsychology generates essential quantitative data for diagnosis and treatment planning. 


In children, these processes are uniquely complex, particularly after any negative impact to brain development. This occurs in numerous childhood disorders, but neuropsychology traditionally focuses on medical and neurological conditions. Global understanding of the brain's function leads to improved outcomes. 


Neuropsychologists have extensive training in brain development, neuroanatomy, neurology, and psychology. To use the title neuropsychologist, a clinical internship and two-year post doctoral fellowship in clinical neuropsychology are required. Individuals without these credentials do not meet the definition of a neuropsychologist; they are clinical psychologists, and may administer psychological or psychoeducational  assessments. As with physicians, board certification is expected. The American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) grants the most rigorous and highest competency designation in the field. 


Please be aware of psychologists who claim to be neuropsychologists but who do not have the required credentials to do so.  This is extremely problematic and unethical, and often leads to inappropriate testing, recommendations, and diagnoses. 

DOMAINS ASSESSED

  • Intellect (IQ)
  • Verbal & non-verbal skills
  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Executive functions (planning, organizing, initiating, working memory) 
  • Motor skills
  • Academic achievement
  • Adaptive abilities
  • Social, emotional & behavioral functioning 

HOW DO NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATIONS DIFFER FROM SCHOOL EVALUATIONS?

School psychologists typically have master's degrees and administer psychoeducational evaluations through school districts to determine eligibility for specialized services. This often includes an IQ test and academic achievement testing. School psychologists can only make academic recommendations and cannot diagnose clinical conditions.  In many cases these evaluations are entirely sufficient. Determination of a learning disability does not require a neuropsychological evaluation, but a comprehensive assessment may be helpful. Alternatively, as an NJ Certified School Psychologist, I can administer a psychoeducational evaluation that should be accepted by most NJ public schools. However, policies vary significantly by district.  Please see "About" for additional information on evaluation types.