Neuropsychology is a branch of psychology that is concerned with how the brain and the rest of the nervous system influence a person's cognition and behaviors. More importantly, professionals in this branch of psychology often focus on how injuries or illnesses of the brain affect cognitive functions and behaviors. A neuropsychologist is most often a PhD (sometimes a PsyD) with specialized training in neuro anatomy, neuro function, and neurological testing. Patients are often referred to a neuropsychologist for diagnostic purposes, for the determination of cognitive impairment or dementia, and almost always before any type of functional brain surgery that could impair or interfere with certain parts of the brain.
The Department of Neurosurgery’s Neuropsychology Clinic at the University of Colorado Hospital is the busiest adult-focused neuropsychology service in Colorado and specializes in the assessment of brain-behavior relationships and cognitive functioning in patients with a wide variety of neurosurgical and neurological conditions. Conditions we treat include brain tumors, movement disorders, seizure disorders, dementia and other memory disorders, multiple sclerosis, stroke, and other neurosurgical/neurological conditions. Neuropsychological evaluation typically involves non-invasive, in-depth testing of multiple domains of cognitive functioning, including intellectual abilities, attention and concentration, executive functioning, learning and memory, language functioning, visuospatial skills, motor skills, and psychological symptoms. Results from a neuropsychological evaluation are utilized to document a person’s level of cognitive functioning and to evaluate both the pattern and severity of any cognitive deficits that may be associated with neurosurgical, neurological, or medical conditions. Results are often also used to establish a pre-surgical baseline of cognitive functioning and to evaluate post-surgical changes in cognitive functioning or treatment effects. Recommendations are provided and typically include suggestions for treating and compensating for areas of weakness, return to work issues, and issues related to daily living skills and management of daily activities.
Our four board-certified neuropsychologists work in conjunction with several multi-disciplinary treatment teams and clinics at the University of Colorado Hospital, including Deep Brain Stimulation, Neuroseizure, Behavioral Neurology Clinic, Stroke, and the Concussion Clinic.
About our Research in Neuropsychology
In addition, to clinical services, our providers are actively involved in a number of research endeavors. This includes recent publications on the utility of performance validity measures in different neurological/neurosurgical populations, and our faculty also play consulting roles on a variety of funded projects, such as those involving multiple sclerosis and concussion in older adults.
With regard to training, the CUSOM Neuropsychology Fellowship was established 10 years ago and since 2011 has been the only adult neuropsychology focused fellowship in Colorado to be a member of the Association of Postdoctoral Programs in Clinical Neuropsychology (APPCN). In addition, our faculty provide neuropsychology training for graduate student level externs and those participating in the University of Colorado School of Medicine Psychology Internship.
Our neuropsychology faculty are actively engaged in a variety of service endeavors at the national and state level, including the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology (AACN), the Association of Postdoctoral Programs in Clinical Neuropsychology (APPCN), and the Colorado Neuropsychological Society (CNS). Like many of the neurosurgery providers and staff, we also attend special events for local community disease-specific organizations, and we serve on local boards and committees, as needed.