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What are Neuropsychological Tests?

By Misty Wiser
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Neuropsychological tests are performed during a neuropsychological assessment to determine the cognitive function of a person. Qualified medical personnel give the tests in a structured environment. Neurocognitive tests evaluate for dementia and organic brain damage that can affect a person’s ability to make decisions and function during daily activities.

There are many neuropsychological tests available for medical professionals to determine the cognitive ability of a person. The data gathered from the tests can be used to show competency for legal and medical decisions and to see if a person can live independently. Hospitals also use neuropsychological tests to determine if a person is a good candidate for an organ transplant.

There are several types of neuropsychological tests that may be performed. The Bender Visual Motor Gestalt Test is given to determine the visual motor and perception skills of a person. The results of this test can indicate the developmental maturity of a person and his emotional stability. This neuropsychological test also can show early markers of brain dysfunction.

A person’s language ability can be tested with the Boston Naming Test. It involves showing pictures of objects and recording the verbal response to the picture. The test can be used to determine the location of brain damage by assessing any vocalization problems and relating them to the corresponding parts of the brain that are responsible for language.

Older adults with memory problems may be given the Dementia Rating Scale test. This test screens for memory and conceptualization issues that may impair a person’s ability to make competent decisions. It includes evaluation for attention span and the capacity to initiate conversations and acquire assistance for daily tasks.

It is possible to test for lateral brain damage by giving a patient the Finger Tapping Test, also called the Finger Oscillation Test. This exam monitors the motor activity on both sides of the body. Poor performance can indicate where the brain is injured, helping medical professionals develop a rehabilitation plan.

An assessment of the overall brain function of a person can be determined with the Halstead-Reitan Neuropsychological Battery of tests. This evaluation examines all aspects of brain function, including spatial relations, motor speed, and abstract thinking. A portion of the test evaluates memory, language, and the ability to focus on a task.

A neuropsychological test also can be given to evaluate a person’s tendency to give wrong answers on psychological tests. The Paulhus Deception Scales may be useful to medical professionals who are unable to rehabilitate a patient because of inconsistent information. The result of the test can help doctors better develop a treatment plan for this type of individual.

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Discussion Comments
By candyquilt — On Dec 09, 2014

My aunt was given the dementia test last week. She didn't score too well. The doctor has given her some medication to help. We had foreseen this because my aunt had been having issues with memory and communication lately. It's upsetting to know that she is starting to experience dementia but it's also good for it to be diagnosed so that we can be there for her and assist her. And it's also good that she's receiving treatment.

By SteamLouis — On Dec 09, 2014

@ddljohn-- Yes, I think so. I'm just not sure which specific tests would be used to help in diagnosing mental health conditions. But neuropsychological tests can definitely give doctors of a good idea of what the problem may be and where it may be stemming from. The only issue might be that research into the neurological causes of psychiatric disorders are still ongoing. There are theories and connections found but some of them are not yet proven.

If neuropsychologists could develop tests to both diagnose a mental health condition and also know which part of the brain is responsible for it, that would be great.

By ddljohn — On Dec 08, 2014

What about mental health disorders, can neuropsychological tests be used to diagnose them?

The reason I ask is because I thought that the field of neuropsychology was established just so that some mental health disorders can be more easily diagnosed. It's the fusion of neurology and psychology.

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