What is a neuropsychological assessment?

What is a neuropsychological assessment?

Neuropsychological or cognitive assessmentis a diagnostic method designed specifically to explore the cognitive functioning of people.It provides very valuable information that may go unnoticed in other study methodologies. It is therefore used in a complementary manner to neuroimaging techniques or radiological tests.

Neuropsychological assessment allows to study the activity and functioning of brain cognitive systems through the exploration of higher capacities. This is why it is performed in patients suffering from damage or brain damage. It allows to know their degree of intellectual deterioration. It is also done after people who want to monitor their mental functioning at different stages of their lives.

Types of neuropsychological assessment

No patient is identical to another. Each must be considered as a particular universe. The neuropsychological evaluation must therefore be flexible and adapted to each clinical case. It is therefore impossible to establish a taxonomy of cognitive exploration types as such, even though, depending on its purpose, it could be:

Cognitive assessment

Its main purpose is to know in depth the functioning of attention, memory, language or executive functions (planning, prevention, control, supervision, organization …). Standardized tests are therefore used to record both quantitative and qualitative information.

It is, therefore, as important to see that the professional is concerned with patient test results as with their attitude and how they are performed.. In other words, it is important to interpret the numerical score obtained by a person suffering from intellectual impairment. Nevertheless, the professional must also pay attention to the behavior of the patient during the tests.

The information provided by the patient's relatives is often essential. Indeed, patients are sometimes not aware that their intellectual functions have been modified. Since then,the data provided by the relatives are necessary for the establishment of their neuropsychological profile.

Executive functions and social cognition

This type of neuropsychological evaluation is very common in children. They must perform a series ofNeuropsychological batteries to know their level of maturity and their cognitive performance.These tests attempt to examine inhibitory control, as well as several multitasking and social skills. The ultimate goal is the adequacy of the interpersonal strategies they use in their daily lives.

One of the most used tests is that of BANFE (neuropsychological battery of executive functions and frontal lobes). It isvalue thes executive functions through 15 processes, grouped into three specific brain areas : orbitomedial, prefrontal anterior and dorsolateral. Its main advantage is to obtain a global index and a specific index for each region evaluated.

Specific to visual-spatial functions

Visual-spatial skills are very useful in our daily lives. Theyallow us to represent, analyze and manipulate objects mentally.Without them it would be impossible, for example, to pour water into a glass without spilling.

The failures we have can often appear a priori as visual defects. However, they sometimes have little to do with primary sensory organs (eyes).These failures are instead linked to the subsequent stages of information processing. In other words, to the gnostic processes related to the areas of association of the cerebral cortex.

The Poppelreuter tests, in which a series of overlapping and intermingling figures are presented, are among the most used in this type of neuropsychological assessment.The test of the 15 objects and clocks of Luria is also very used.

The typical neuropsychological assessment involves measuring different aspects. Among them, general intellectual ability, language, personality and temperament, attention, memory and other high-level performance skills.Some skills will be analyzed more deeply than others depending on the case and the needs of the patient.

Its application can be the key to diagnosis

Neuropsychological assessment has various applications and uses.Among other things, it makes it possible to identify the zones or the altered intellectual functions.For example, problems or memory problems that could not have been detected if tests of a cognitive nature had not been performed.

Neuropsychological batteries are often the only tools that can be used by professionals to detect diseases early. Theyare widely used in the diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases such asAlzheimer's disease. Or in the attentional alterations associated with diabetes or alcoholism.

They also make it possible to differentiate between various possible diagnoses (differential diagnosis) on the basis of the same clinical framework. In other words,neuropsychological assessment is essential to differentiate diseases.It can determine when the cognitive impairment of a patient is due to a stroke or is the result of a deep depression.

It is essential, however, not to confuse neuropsychological assessment with the simple administration of tests or neuropsychological tests. She goes beyond.Test administration is only one of the phases of this type of evaluation.

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