Neuropsychological, or neurocognitive, assessment is an important component of the comprehensive neurodiagnostic evaluation of many patients with suspected or known brain dysfunction. The neurocognitive tests that comprise these evaluations reflect an extension and refinement of the Behavioral Neurology & Neuropsychiatry (BN&NP) examination through the use of highly standardized tests that assess various aspects of cognition and behavior. These tests sample cognitive output of the brain in a standard, objective fashion that forms the basis of the neuropsychological evaluation and allows for a quantified assessment of the neurocognitive effects of various neuromedical conditions. As such, they provide an indirect measure of brain function and represent the most sensitive means we have of assessing human cognitive/brain function. A cornerstone of neuropsychological assessment is the use of norm-referenced data that allow for an individual's performance on a particular test or group of tests to be compared with general or specific population-based results. This allows for a statistical comparison of test performance characteristics, which help determine level of functioning in multiple cognitive domains. Individual neurocognitive strengths and weaknesses can be determined based upon careful analysis of qualitative as well as quantitative test performance features. Analysis of performance patterns within and across neurocognitive measures can yield important information regarding levels of functional ability and disability that have implications for differential diagnosis as well as carrying out everyday activities. From the results of these tests, recommendations can be derived to help patients with cognitive impairments maximize their cognitive functioning.
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