People need to be at least 6 months post injury or acute illness before they should be tested.

This is the worst of all the myths! I have seen patients acutely (like in the emergency department), and in all phases of their recovery. Please, if a neuropsychological evaluation is recommended for you, don’t wait to pursue it. For acute injuries I will recommend repeat testing at a specific interval to track recovery.

Neuropsychological tests always last like 8 hours!

False! Sometimes people are tested for as little as thirty minutes. Other folks are with us all day. It all depends on the nature and severity of the presenting illness.

Neuropsychological tests can only be administered once every 6 months.

Actually, we know what the test-retest practice effects are and how to control for them. There is no magical period of time you have to wait between testing sessions. It comes down to why the testing is being repeated, and the nature and severity of the presenting illness or injury.

People can fail the tests.

Neuropsychological testing is unlike school. You really can’t pass or fail the cognitive testing, but you can invalidate it, so it’s important to put forth your best effort.

You can’t tell what I was like before my injury / illness.

The majority of people we see don’t have baseline testing. However, we can get a pretty good estimate of premorbid (baseline) cognitive functioning based on tests that typically do not change over one’s lifetime despite injury or illness.

Symptoms need to be disabling to get referred for a neuropsychological evaluation.

We see people who are severely impaired and people who have entirely average to above average cognitive functioning, and everything in between! The commonality among our patients is just that everyone has some concern about their thinking abilities for one reason or another.

It’s one big long test.

No, there is first an interview during which you are asked a lot of questions about developmental history, medical history, and current cognitive and emotional concerns, among other topics. The process of neuropsychological testing involves multiple tests that cover all different cognitive domains (memory, attention, processing speed, executive functioning, language skills, etc.)

People who have blindness or deafness can’t do testing.

Actually, there are neuropsychologists who specialise in evaluations for members of our community who are deaf, and blindness or low vision should not prevent people from pursuing neuropsychological testing if it is necessary.

Questions? Give us a call or make an appointment, or both! Some people like to come in for the clinical interview prior to doing any testing. That can go a long way toward reducing anxiety and getting your questions answered.

— Jennifer Geiger