Seattle SkylineKenneth Muscatel, PhD-
Clinical, Forensic &  Neuropsychology-
1001 Broadway, Suite 318-
Seattle, WA 98122-
Phone & FAX  (206) 324-4443-
Email: kmuscatel@msn.com-
KennethMuscatelPhD.com-

Neuropsychology

What is Forensic Neuropsychology?

Forensic neuropsychology represents the intersection between law and neuropsychology.  Neuropsychologists are often called upon to render expert opinions needed for legal determinations. Psychological and neuropsychological testing provides a level of objectivity and accuracy needed for fair legal decisions.

Legal areas in which psychologists may be called upon include:

  • Workers' Compensation: When a worker is injured on the job, the employer or the state may be required to pay for the worker's treatment, and provide compensation for possible permanent injury. A neuropsychological assessment can be used to make determinations about cognitive, emotional and psychiatric injury.
  • Disability: Insurance companies and Social Security may provide payments to people who are too disabled to work. Neuropsychological testing can provide an objective index of the presence and degree of psychological disability, and can also be used to prove the legitimacy of a claim, or to demonstrate that the claimant is malingering.
  • Personal Injury: When an injury occurs outside of the workplace, such as injury due to a defective product or an auto accident or assault, a legal action may be filed to determine liability for the injury and to collect damages. A psychologist may provide assessment of brain &/or emotional damage.
  • Criminal Law: Psychologists are used to evaluate criminal defendants in order to determine their competency to stand trial and to determine sanity as it relates to criminal responsibility.

What is a Neuropsychological Evaluation?

Traditionally, neuropsychology is the study of the brain-behavior relationship. Neuropsychology attempts to understand how the brain and neural networks produces and controls behavior and mental processes, including emotions, personality, thinking, learning and remembering, problem solving, and consciousness.  Clinical neuropsychology seeks to understand how damaged or diseased brain structures alter behaviors that may interfered with mental and cognitive functions - including daily living functioning. 

A neuropsychological evaluation is a comprehensive assessment of cognitive and behavioral functions using a set of standardized tests and procedures. Various mental functions are systematically and objectively assessed, including, but not limited to:

  • Intelligence Functioning
  • Attention, Concentration and Learning
  • Verbal and Visual Memory
  • Language Functioning
  • Academic Abilities
  • Motor and Visuo-motor Functions
  • Sensory Perceptual Functioning
  • Executive (problem solving) and Conceptualization
  • Planning and Organizational Skills
  • Effort
  • Emotions, behavior, and personality

When is a Neuropsychological evaluation appropriate?

A neuropsychological evaluation is recommended for any case in which brain-based impairment in cognitive function or behavior is suspected. Typical referrals are made to diagnose or rule out the following conditions, and to describe their impact on a person's cognitive functioning:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Forensic issues
  • Neurological disorders (e.g., strokes, tumors, Parkinson's Disease) 
  • Learning disabilities
  • Attention deficit disorders
  • Vocational concerns
  • Psychiatric or neuropsychiatric disorders
  • Seizure disorders
  • Medical illness or treatments
  • Effects of toxic chemicals or chronic substance abuse
  • Dementing conditions (e.g., Alzheimer's Disease)
  • Competency 

Neuropsychological evaluations can assist in planning educational and vocational programs.

What can I expect from my results?

That depends on the reason for the evaluation. Neuropsychological evaluations may:

  • Profile strengths and weaknesses to guide rehabilitation, educational, vocational, or other services.
  • Document changes in functioning since prior examinations, including effects of treatment.
  • Recommend possible treatments.
  • Clarify potential compensatory strategies.
  • Result in referrals to other specialists, such as educational therapists, cognitive rehabilitation professionals, neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses, special education teachers, or vocational counselors.

What is involved in a Neuropsychological Evaluation?

Generally, a neuropsychological evaluation involves a wide variety of tasks, most of which are completed sitting at a table. It is not physically demanding but it is mentally challenging. There are no invasive procedures, no pain, no needles, or electrodes. The tests are administered and scored either by the neuropsychologist or more commonly by a psychometrist. However, only the neuropsychologist is qualified to interpret the data. The evaluation often takes 6 to 8 hours of face-to-face contact, but can vary widely depending on what information is being sought. The evaluation is scheduled in a single appointment typically starting at 8 am.

 

Neuropsychological Testing