Neuropsychological Testing

The neuropsychology team at the Center for Human Potential is led by Dr. Jon Pertab, who Ph.D. from Brigham Young University and Post-Graudate Diploma in Clinical Psychology from University of Auckland, New Zealand.  Call 801 483-2447 for more information.

Neuropsychological testing is the use of formal tests of mental ability to assess brain functioning including Memory.  A neuropsychological assessment can be an important tool in helping your doctor diagnose conditions that impact cognitive (mental) functioning.  Neuropsychologists use the tests to help determine if a person is suffering from or experiencing a condition that impacts brain functioning (e.g. a traumatic brain injury, stroke or developmental conditions including learning disabilities).  The process works by comparing the performance of an individual on the tests with the performance of large groups of others who have also taken the tests.  The neuropsychologist will look at the test results and determine whether the person's performance looks more like the performance of a group with no conditions or  more like a group with a known condition.  Neuropsychological Assessment is can help to diagnose various conditions and can be used to help select the best treatment options.

Neuropsychological Testing for Dementia

Neuropsychological Testing can be used to help refine the diagnosis of memory problems by distinguishing between normal age-related memory loss and dementia. It also distinguishes between dementia and temporary memory problems caused or affected by emotional disturbance.  Neuropsychological testing can also assist in distinguishing between different types of dementia, and is an effective way to monitor progressive decline and to provide important feedback regarding the efficacy of cognitive enhancing medications.

There are many causes of dementia, including degenerative diseases, vascular disease, infections, traumatic brain injury, or combinations of these conditions. Some dementias are progressive, whereas others are not.  A neuropsychological evaluation provides a comprehensive assessment of cognitive (mental) functions including attention and concentration, memory, language, motor functioning, reasoning, and executive functioning. Alzheimer’s disease, strokes and trauma each produce different patterns of dysfunction. A thorough neuropsychological evaluation provides the necessary information needed to identify the actual cause of the symptoms, or what is referred to as a “differential diagnosis”.

When ordered by a physician, neuropsychological testing is covered by Medicare and paid at 80% and most private insurance companies will cover the 20% co-payment. An evaluation with a focus on memory loss and suspected dementia typically involves a one-hour diagnostic interview and approximately 6 hours of testing.

Neuropsychological Testing and Concussion (Mild Traumatic Brain Injury)

A concussion is a disturbance in brain function that occurs following either a blow to the head or as a result of the violent shaking of the head. A concussion needs to be managed early and comprehensively and effective concussion management is a team effort. The professional staff of the Center for Human Potential work with an injured individual's medical providers in order to ensure that recovery is as swift and comprehensive as possible and that the risk of re-injury before full recovery is minimized.  The inability of MRI, CT and other traditional imaging tools to measure the impact of concussion on the brain make the role of neuropsychological testing critical in knowing how the brain is affected by these events.

The extensive work that has been undertaken in athletics has taught us a lot about concussion. It has taught us that loss of consciousness only occurs in ten percent of concussions and that a person who looks OK may have debilitating symptoms that prevent them from functioning at their normal level. It is not uncommon for people who suffer mild brain injury to not get the help that they need because of the difficulty in objectively measuring the symptoms associated with the injury. Michael Collins, one of the founders of ImPACT, reports that there are 21 symptoms of concussion and without proper assessment many of these can be overlooked.  At the Center for Human Potential we are working hard to increase awareness of concussion (in sports and other activities).  We use ImPACT in our assessment of concussion and when necessary we can conduct comprehensive neuropsychological testing to help identify the effect of the concussion.