Neuropsychology is key to interrogating the cognitive dysfunction that often accompanies long standing focal epilepsy, and tests attention, problem solving, memory, language, IQ, visual-spatial skills, academic skills, and social-emotional functioning. Often, we are able to offer neuropsychology evaluation when patients are admitted for their video EEG monitoring study, so that the test – which can take several hours – can be done at the same time that the EEG and seizure data is obtained. Results from neuropsychology inform the team how the patient might respond to a surgical procedure on their brain. For instance, the testing might suggest that the proposed surgery would carry no or minimal risk to cognitive function, or might suggest otherwise that surgery would entail a level of risk. This information is considered when proposing surgery for epilepsy, deciding between various kinds of surgery or offering alternative, non-surgical therapies.
Information for patients
Neuropsychological testing involves tests of mental functions such as language or memory. This test is administered by our specialized neuropsychologists, who normally see patients for testing when patients are admitted to hospital for seizure (Phase I) evaluation. Occasionally, you may get the neuropsychology test in the outpatient clinic after discharge from hospital. Neuropsychology is an extremely important part of the evaluation of epilepsy, especially if brain surgery is considered. It takes about four hours to complete. It needs patients to participate fully, so that the best information is obtained about which mental functions are working normally, and which functions have been affected by seizures. This information in turn, is vital to the kinds of treatment that can be planned for patients. For instance, a scar in the brain might make that portion of the brain unable to perform its functions as normal, in which case removal of that brain part should have no adverse consequences. Results of neuropsychology testing are discussed at our multidisciplinary conferences as part of understanding your overall seizure condition and determining the best treatment plan.