Thursday, 8 December 2011

Cognitive neuropsychology - Neuropsychological assessment

According to Martin (2006) neuropsychological assessment is a set of tests that are designed to measure the effects of brain damage on intellectual, motor or emotional functions. Generally if a neurologist suspects cognitive impairment in a patient they may be referred to a clinical psychologist for a series of assessment. This is essential as it helps to determine, identify and localise malfunction in the central nervous system (CNS) (Martin, 2006). Therefore neuropsychological assessment helps better direct clinicians to identify problems and see what functions are spared, and thus make the most effective treatment programmes. It may also help to identify which brain regions are responsible for certain neuropsychological problems. The aim for neuropsychological testing is to; aid the ability to diagnose, to be able to label cognitive deficits, and to study the change and the development of cognitive impairment problems over time. Barrett (1993) postulates that there are various reasons why a patient may have a malfunction of the central nervous system, these include; genetic and inherited disorders, infections, prenatal problems such as malnutrition and deprivation and also injuries caused from trauma (Barrett, 1993). When being neurologically tested the CNS malfunctions are likely to be 'low-order systems' such as sensory and motor deficits or 'higher-order systems' such as deficits in cognition and attention (Martin, 2006).