Neuropsychology

Neuropsychology

Neuropsychology is the branch of psychology that explores how different thinking processes affect our emotional and behavioral functioning.

These processes include:

  • Attention: Are we distracted easily?
  • Processing speed: Is it taking longer to think things through?
  • Memory: Are we forgetting more things than usual?
  • Executive function: Changes in ability to plan and organise tasks, in abstract reasoning, and in impulse control.
  • Personality: Changes in sense of humor, social skills or irritability.

Our Clinical Neuropsychologist will  talk with you to understand the symptoms or concerns that lead you to seek support.

For example you might have experienced an accident; serious illness or neurological issues such as a stroke or the effects of long term heavy alcohol use.  Our neuropsychologist’s knowledge of how the brain can be affected by these events is used to help you adapt and function to your best potential.

Neuropsychological assessments at Attuned Psychology

Our Neuropsychologist has been endorsed by the Psychology Board of Australia, which means they have qualifications and supervised experience in an advanced area of practice, in addition to the minimum level of training required for General registration. At Attuned Psychology, our Clinical Neuropsychologist is also a Clinical Psychologist, enabling clients to benefit from insights and diagnoses drawn from both disciplines.

At Attuned, specific assessment activities will be used to objectively identify whether areas of your brain are damaged and how that is likely to affect your functioning in everyday life.

The tests are “pencil and paper”and also some administered on iPad.  It does not involve any physical examinations.

Our neuropsychologist is not a medical doctor and cannot order blood tests or medical imaging such as MRI/CT scans.  However, the results of these tests, if your doctor has organised them, can be compared and contrasted with your neuropsychological test results.

The goal is to arrive at a confident diagnosis so an effective treatment or management pathway can be mapped out for you.

Who benefits from Clinical Neuropsychology

Older adults present for neuropsychological assessments when they begin to doubt their brains aren’t working as sharply as they used to. With fears about dementia and falls, older people benefit from neuropsychology because it can find links in family or personal history that might predispose them to issues with brain function. It is very common for these clients to want decisive insights so they can manage the changes that lie ahead, instead of waiting until it is too late to take effective action.

It is common for such clients to see their GP first, who might run tests to rule out issues like stress and headaches, before turning to geriatricians and neurologists who might run standardised tests like Mini Mental. Where neuropsychology goes further is that our Neuropsychologist has a different set of tests that can plot your current brain function performance against a model based on a lot of clinical data, so you can measure the gap between where you are and where you should be, with a high degree of clinical accuracy.

Younger adults present for neuropsychological assessments when they become concerned that their memory is performing at an abnormally low level. Sometimes these fears prompt questions about whether or not they should return to work or continue with their education courses. As part of the diagnosis, it is common for causes to be uncovered such as sicknesses, a high exposure to head trauma such as heading soccer balls, or even drug taking. Furthermore, sometimes there are no obvious causes but very clear symptoms of issues with brain function.

The good news is that when younger people get a sound diagnosis through neuropsychology, their “documented condition” can unlock extra support resources at school and university, as well as in some workplaces. Clients also report that having a clear diagnosis is helpful for explaining their situation to friends and family.

Neuropsychology can be useful for the following:

  • Explaining memory lapses
  • Being unable to concentrate on tasks
  • Planning early for living with Dementia
  • Increased forgetfulness
  • Speaking before thinking things through
  • To demonstrate whether your thinking skills are sound to enable you to drive, manage your own legal and financial arrangements
  • To measure the extent of any thinking problems to establish is you are eligible for extra assistance or services

 

Image: Lance Shields by Spiro Scribbles via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/4eN2H8. CC BY 2.0
08 8361 7008

Our preference is to speak with you because that helps us pair you with the most appropriate psychologist while avoiding a number of emails going back and forth. However, we are happy to communicate with you using either method. And for your convenience, we are here in person after hours until 9pm Monday to Thursday, and on Saturday until 2pm. We look forward to hearing from you.