The neuropsychology team at Wake Forest Baptist is committed to providing accurate and timely cognitive assessment and evaluation of a variety of neurological and medical conditions that can affect behavior and cognitive function.
Clinical neuropsychologists are doctoral-level, licensed psychologists who have special expertise in the applied science of brain-behavior relationships. Clinical neuropsychologists use this knowledge in the assessment, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of patients with neurological, medical, neurodevelopmental and psychiatric conditions, as well as other cognitive and learning disorders.
Our team provides a wide range of assessment and treatment services for pediatric, adult and geriatric patients. Assessment services include neuropsychological evaluation, which consists of a variety of tasks to measure brain-based difficulties that can be associated with neurological illness or brain injury.
Conditions we evaluate include:
- Autoimmune and paraneoplastic conditions
- Cerebrovascular disease (e.g., stroke or transient ischemic attack)
- CNS infections
- Cognitive change related to brain tumor, chemotherapy, radiation or other general medical conditions or treatment
- Genetic disorders
- Learning disabilities in children
- Mild cognitive impairment, neurodegenerative disease or ”pseudodementia” due to depression
- Movement disorders
- Suspected early onset or age-related cognitive decline
- Traumatic brain injury
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).
The types of tests that you or your child will take depend on the questions you and your doctor have. The tests may assess the following areas:
- Attention and memory
- Reasoning and problem-solving
- Visual-spatial functions
- Language functions
- Sensory/perceptual functions
- Motor functions
- Academic skills
- Emotional/behavioral/social function
The tests are not invasive; they do not involve attaching patients to machines or use X-rays. Most of the tests will involve questions and answers, or working with materials on a table. Some tests may use a computer. The testing may be performed by the neuropsychologist or by a trained staff member. The neuropsychologist or a staff member will also spend some time talking with you about medical, personal and school history.
The total time involved in the evaluation will depend on the questions you and your doctor have.
This evaluation may be of help in:
- Finding possible problems with brain functioning
- Forming a diagnosis
- Defining thinking skill strengths and weaknesses
- Guiding treatment for personal, educational or vocational needs
- Making relevant recommendations to health care provider(s)
- Documenting possible changes in functioning over time
What Should I Expect?
The neuropsychological examination will generally last approximately 3 to 4 hours (5 to 7 hours for pediatric evaluations). For adult patients, we recommend that you plan on spending half a day at your appointment so that you can complete your evaluation. For pediatric cases, we recommend that you plan on spending a full day at the appointment.
During the appointment, you will be asked to answer questions about yourself and your background or that of your child. The person being evaluated will also be asked to complete a variety of paper and pencil tasks that are used to evaluate different thinking skills. Breaks can be taken as needed during the evaluation.
How Should I Prepare for the Evaluation?
- Get a good night’s rest.
- Eat meals as you typically would.
- Take all prescribed medications.
- Bring glasses, hearing aids, medications and snacks if you wish.
- Bring a list of all your medications and dosages
- Bring a trusted individual who can talk to the doctor about your recent day-to-day activities.
Health psychology involves using clinical psychology services to assist individuals in coping with chronic pain, chronic or acute medical/neurological conditions, and symptoms of depression and anxiety that often accompany these conditions and life changes.
Our services include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Relaxation training
- Rehabilitation counseling
As part of Wake Forest School of Medicine, the department of neurology provides training in pediatric, adult, and geriatric neuropsychology. We offer training opportunities for graduate students in psychology through formal practicum placement.
In addition to individual supervision, the School of Medicine provides multiple didactic opportunities. These include:
- Epilepsy surgery conference
- Tumor boards
- Movement disorder surgical conference
- Neurology grand rounds
- Pediatric cancer group
Reading materials are also provided in relationship to assessment, clinical case conceptualization and professional matters in neuropsychology.