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SUNY Downstate Comprehensive Epilepsy Center

Neuropsychological Testing

tracing of electroencephalogram

Neuropsychological testing is often an important part of the care of epilepsy patients. A typical neuropsychological evaluation begins with an interview where patients are asked about their symptoms, everyday functional skills (e.g., driving, managing finances, grocery shopping), medical history, social and occupational background, and other important factors. The interview is followed by paper-and-pencil or computerized tests that allow the neuropsychologist to examine general knowledge and specific brain functions, including attention, concentration, reasoning, learning and memory, language, visual/spatial skills, and sensory and motor abilities. The patient's mood is also assessed. The pattern of test scores is then examined, and strengths and weaknesses are identified.

Information from neuropsychological testing is used for diagnosis and treatment planning. In patients who are candidates for epilepsy surgery, neuropsychological testing can help determine which areas of the brain have been affected by seizure activity. It can also provide a baseline measure of brain function against which post-surgical changes can be compared. Test results can also be used to address patient concerns about cognitive difficulties and medication side effects, and to guide decisions regarding education and occupation.

At SUNY Downstate Medical Center, neuropsychological evaluation, the Wada test, and cortical mapping procedures are available in both English and Russian.