The Uses of Neuropsychology

By Michael Abruzzese, Ph.D.

©Copyright 2021 Vista Health Services, Inc.

Neuropsychology is a particular type of Psychological Evaluation. In this post, I focus more on the utility of this type of Psychological Assessment than on others. The uses of Neuropsychology in the modern world expand with the new knowledge acquired about how the “brain” works. Actually, when we speak of the brain, we are really speaking of the central nervous system (CNS) of an individual. The CNS is like the software that runs the computer and sometimes it’s just not a happy place to be.

Like when things go wrong. Or when things don’t develop and “turn on” the way they should. So with evaluating adults, Neuropsychologists are usually involved with assessing any acquired central nervous system problem that might affect the cognitive or general psychological functioning in adults. An acquired problem usually occurs due to accident, like a concussion, car accident or similar event, while with children we are looking more for a delay or disruption in the actual development of cognitive or general psychological functioning.

Neuropsychology is often the gold standard in assisting other professionals in their diagnosis and treatment of CNS or even functional behavioral disorders that involve questions of loss or functional capacity of an individual to well, function in ever day life in areas such as working or being able to return to work, live alone, make informed decisions about money and events and even the ability to take medicine without supervision. Neuropsychologists also include detailed recommendations linked to their findings to help compensate or enhance an individual’s – and also their family’s – quality of life.

The fancy definition is from the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology (AACN), that states: “Clinical neuropsychology is a specialty field within clinical psychology, dedicated to understanding the relationships between brain and behavior, particularly as these relationships can be applied to the diagnosis of brain disorder, assessment of cognitive and behavioral functioning, and the design of effective treatment.”

Practically speaking, this means that Neuropsychology is about the software, while traditional medicine is about the hardware. In future posts, I’ll be covering aspects of particular functioning in certain areas of difficulty or debilitation, but for now, this handy list, provided by the University of Texas, McGovern Medical School Department of Neurology, gives you an idea of the topic we will be covering in future posts.

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Frontotemporal dementias/other dementias
  • Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders, including deep brain stimulation (DBS)
  • Epilepsy/seizure disorders
  • Head injuries/sports concussion
  • Brain tumors
  • Brain infections (encephalitis, meningitis, etc)
  • Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders
  • Depression
  • Strokes
  • Exposure to pesticides and other toxic chemicals
  • Heart attacks and cerebrovascular disease
  • Autoimmune disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis
  • Capacity/competency issues
  • Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

Michael Abruzzese, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist on Cape Cod and a former Clinical Instructor at Harvard Medical School. He is the author of Ten Lessons in Power Psychology; Psychology Tips and Techniques For People Who Would Never Visit a Psychologist’s Office.

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