Neuropsychological diagnostics

Neuropsychological diagnostics is a term for testing the performance of the brain in a standardized and normalized way (paper and pen, computer-assisted tests). Neuropsychological examinations test the following aspects of cerebral performance:

  • attention
  • motor control and coordination
  • psychomotor speed
  • executive functions
  • speech
  • memory and language-related memory
  • visual spacious and visual constructive performance
  • planning, solution of a problem
  • general performance diagnostics

Clinical, psychological behavior diagnostics

In clinical, psychological behavior diagnostics, we utilize standardized and normalized questionnaires in order to receive information about, e.g.,

  • emotional disorders like anxiety and depression
  • adaptation
  • social and communicative behavior
  • personality

Scope of neuropsychological diagnostics

Neuropsychological diagnostics as well as clinical, psychological behavior diagnostics are used to determine the state of cognitive performance and also to give a second opinion in case of a previously diagnosed disorder given the following symptoms/disorders:

  • sudden or decreasing performance and problems related to school, job or daily life
  • problems related to memory, attention, orientation, speech, etc., found by yourself or relatives, friends and colleagues
  • chronic degenerative and inflammatory disorders/diseases of the central nervous system as well as motor disorders that worsen or can worsen the cognitive performance (e.g., dementia, progressive language disorder, encephalitis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson´s disease, spinocerebellar ataxia/atrophy, multiple system atrophy, etc.)
  • tumors of the central nervous system
  • epilepsy (especially if it is new)
  • depression and anxiety disorder
  • (posttraumatic) stress disorder
  • chronic fatigue syndrome, burnout

Superordinate applications

Neuropsychological examinations objectify and quantify presumed or known damage- or disease-related disorders of cerebral performance, emotional processing and behavioral regulation and control.

Findings complement and support neurological and psychiatric and differential diagnostics. Particularly, we estimate whether and to what extent the behavior is reflected by the structural and functional imaging (MRI) as well as electrophysiological diagnostics. Likewise, neuropsychology can also have an impact on further neurological and psychiatric diagnostics.

The findings are regarded as a temporary snapshot of the initial situation. They also make an evaluation of the processing, results and treatment quality possible within the temporal course of disorders/diseases and medication or surgical treatment.

When is neuropsychological diagnostics indicated?

Psychological and neuropsychological diagnostics should be carried out in case of/in order to

  • subjectively diagnosed or presumed performance decrease of the brain,
  • quantify diagnosed or known performance decrease of the brain,
  • recently diagnosed diseases/disorders of the central nervous system,
  • make an initial diagnosis as starting point for further diagnostics in the course of a disease/disorder (amelioration, stagnation, worsening),
  • accompany a disorder/disease (advance, stagnation, plasticity, recovery),
  • accompany a medication, invasive (surgical), semi-invasive (e.g., brain stimulation, chemotherapy, radiation therapy) treatment (desired effects or undesirable side effects)
    • aim: maximization of treatment success, performance and quality of life; minimization of undesirable side effects,
  • initiate early medical treatment,
  • initiate early and targeted occupational, neuropsychological and psychotherapeutic treatment.

How is neuropsychological diagnostics carried out?

At the beginning of psychological and neuropsychological diagnostics, a first consultation takes place, if necessary, e.g., with relatives. Questionnaires serve to examine the behavior and, given a previously diagnosed disorder/disease, to assess treatment effects. Experienced testers do tests lasting between 30 minutes and 3 hours. Conclusively, we talk about your needs, further neuropsychological or other diagnostics and treatment options as well.

Neuropsychological diagnostics compared to other diagnostic procedures

Neuropsychology focuses on the direct behavior and, thus, reflects the symptoms at the end of the range, compared to most of the neurological examinations. Neuropsychological deficits and changes in behavior are the first clue to a beginning disease of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). They are very sensitive to the dynamics of the disease/disorder and the therapeutic success, and they have a direct impact on daily life.

Advantages neuropsychological diagnostics

Neuropsychology is non-invasive, replicable, sensitive, and it objectifies and quantifies deficits (objective, metric). It correlates well with neurological imaging and functional diagnostics, is valid in terms of differential diagnostics, gives cues to potentially required further diagnostics and diagnostics in the temporal course of a disease, and it is also valid in daily life.

Contraindication neuropsychological diagnostics

Contraindications, i.e., reasons against neuropsychological diagnostics:

  • dynamic, acute confusional state (delirium), delusion as well as all other stages of a disease that require medical intervention by a medical specialist
  • given severe intellectual disability, distinct language disorder or severe and chronic psychiatric defects, no differentiated diagnosis is possible
  • deafness and blindness may restrict diagnostic options
  • foreign language; if a translate is at hand, a language barrier is no problem for testing relevant, cognitive base functions