Neuropsychology is a field of study focusing on the brain-behavior relationship. Neuropsychologists are psychologists who have completed a doctorate and two-year postdoctoral fellowship in neuropsychology. They are specially trained in the interpretation of neuropsychological tests, identifying cognitive strengths/weaknesses, and formulating recommendations to improve an individual’s functioning.
If you or a family member are experiencing symptoms or facing the diagnosis of a movement disorder, the multidisciplinary neuroscience experts at Hackensack University Medical Center are here to address your needs.
A neuropsychological evaluation involves the assessment of cognitive skills through the use of standardized tests. Much like MRI or CT scans provide us with information about the structure of the brain, neuropsychological tests provide us with information about the brain’s cognitive functions. Oftentimes, neuropsychological testing can be sensitive to brain dysfunction that may not be seen on a scan. Knowing more about an individual’s cognitive abilities can be used to inform accurate diagnosis, treatment planning, and a successful plan for return to work or school. Cognitive domains such as attention, executive skills, memory, language, and visuospatial skills are assessed via pencil/paper or computerized testing. Additionally, information regarding behavioral style, emotional functioning, and personality traits are also evaluated to provide a comprehensive picture of all factors which might be affecting an individual’s current level of functioning.
Such testing takes quite a bit of time. Typical appointments last a few hours and sometimes they are completed over several days. Once the evaluation is complete, the neuropsychologist scores and interprets the data, and writes a report with the results and recommendations, to be reviewed with you and your referring doctor at a later date.
This type of testing is particularly useful in specific neurologic populations. For instance:
Patients with memory problems undergo neuropsychological evaluations to identify early cognitive problems, aide in accurate diagnosis of what causes the issue, and assist in appropriate treatment suggestions.
Neuropsychological testing is also crucial in the assessment of Movement Disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, as well as Epilepsy, where the data can inform type of movement disorder or seizure activity and help prepare some patients for surgical treatment.
Our comprehensive approach to treatment of Multiple Sclerosis and related disorders often involves neuropsychological assessment aimed at identifying areas of cognitive and emotional concern.
Patients who have had a history of stroke, traumatic brain injury, or concussion often experience cognitive changes as a result. The neuropsychological evaluation can assist in identifying the cognitive areas that have been affected, and appropriate treatments, such as cognitive rehabilitation, could be recommended to help treat these areas of weakness.
Cognitive rehabilitation is a type of therapeutic intervention that helps people learn how to compensate for cognitive problems and how to exercise their memory. Thus, after a comprehensive picture of an individual’s neuropsychological profile is obtained, the results inform the focus of cognitive rehabilitation therapy. Here, such therapy is conducted by speech/language or occupational therapists. They are located on the same floor as the Neuroscience Institute/Department of Neurology and work closely with the neuropsychologist to help patients function better.
Elizabeth Ann Curko Kera, PhD
Dr. Elizabeth Kera practices neuropsychology at the Department of Neurology and Neuroscience Institute of Hackensack University Medical Center. Dr. Kera obtained her B.A. in Psychology as an Honors Scholar at New York University in 2000. In 2006, she completed her Ph.D. in neuropsychology at the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York. She completed her internship in neuropsychology at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, and a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in neuropsychology at Children’s Specialized Hospital of New Jersey. Dr. Kera has co-authored numerous publications and presented on a variety of topics in neuropsychology and is active in several neuropsychological organizations in the Northeast region. Dr. Kera specializes in the neuropsychological assessment of both pediatric and adult populations, specializing in populations with neurologic diagnoses. Combining a working knowledge of clinical neuropsychology, neuroscience, and developmental psychology, Dr. Kera partners with patients, their families, and other professionals to provide a comprehensive assessment of cognitive functioning, and develop appropriate treatment plans/recommendations within the various settings.