Neuropsychology aims at better understanding the associations between the brain on the one hand, and the ‘mind’ and behavioral control, on the other. Neuropsychologist Arthur Benton best-described neuropsychology as “a refinement of clinical neurological and behavioural observation [that] serving the function of enhancing clinical observation [and] is closely allied to clinical neurological and psychological evaluation, and in fact, can be considered to be a special form of it” (1975). 

Neuropsychological assessment is frequently used for Neuroscience research. For example, neuropsychologists carry out early identification of various dementias, since they are primarily diagnosed based on patterns of clear cognitive declines and behavioral disturbances. Another example is the neuropsychology of bipolar disorder, which has received generally less study than that of depression or schizophrenia. Evidence suggests that a broad range of cognitive abilities are impaired during bipolar episodes, including attention, memory, and executive function. ‘Preliminary work suggests that both manic and depressed patients are impaired on tests of memory and planning, but differences have been noted in attentional shifting, with manic patients having difficulty with inhibition of behavioural response and attentional focus, and depressed patients impaired in their ability to shift the focus of their attentional bias’ (Murphy & Sahakian 2001).

Neuropsychological assessment, therefore, aims to extend the neurological and psychological examination by:

(1) providing information for differential diagnosis (looking at the possible disorders that could underlie symptoms as many different disorders cause similar symptoms (e.g. sadness, anxiety, sleep issues);

(2) identifying the emotional, behavioural and cognitive, emotional deficits of disease or injury and characterising their severity;

(3) intervention and functional needs such as guiding treatment by using test results to select effective rehabilitation strategies;

(4) determining functional capacity and decision-making abilities for level-of-care decisions, driving and work capacity

(5) assessing medication cognitive side effects, and establishing candidacy for surgical procedures; and

(6) monitoring cognitive changes and treatment effectiveness across time.