Neuropsychological evaluations are often requested by your doctor or other professionals to help them understand how the different areas of your brain are functioning. A neuropsychological evaluation involves testing that is sensitive to problems in brain functioning. Unlike CT or MRI scans, which show what the structure of the brain looks like, neuropsychological testing examines how well the brain is working when it performs certain functions (for example, remembering). These functions or tasks form the necessary building blocks of successful living in the individual's daily life. Impairment in many of these functions may exist because of brain abnormalities that cannot be detected on CT or MRI scans. Therefore, neuropsychological assessment is a procedure with a unique purpose; it can be used to reveal or diagnose brain dysfunction when no structural brain abnormalities can be seen. Furthermore, when structural abnormalities have been found, neuropsychological assessment provides a way to determine what functions may be impaired because of the structural defects, and to determine the degree to which they may be impaired.
Testing is recommended when there are changes in concentration, organization, language, memory, reasoning, perception, coordination, or personality. These changes may be secondary to a medical condition (diabetes, heart, lung or liver disease, infectious processes, etc.), a neurological illness, (head trauma, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, etc.) or a psychological disorder (depression, anxiety, etc.).