Neuropsychological Assessment, Diagnosis, and Consultation
Neuropsychological Evaluations for Adults
Dr. Persephone Crittenden is a clinical neuropsychologist trained at Harvard Medical School.
Areas of Practice
Some cognitive changes are a normal part of healthy aging while others are not. A neuropsychological assessment can help differentiate between memory and thinking changes associated with the normal aging process verses those indicative of cognitive impairment or a dementia process.
Changes in cognition can be symptomatic of a neurodegenerative disease process. A neuropsychological assessment can help patients and providers identify underlying causes of cognitive or behavioral changes, including neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lewy body disease, frontotemporal disorders, primary progressive aphasia, progressive supranuclear palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, and cerebrovascular disease.
Following a traumatic brain injury (TBI), concussion, or stroke some individuals experience changes in cognition and/or behavior. A neuropsychological assessment can help objectively measure cognitive functioning following a TBI; assist with decision-making regarding returning to play/school/work; provide guidance on what to expect during the recovery process; monitor progress over time through serial assessments (as warranted); identify other medical, environmental, or psychological factors that may be impacting recovery (e.g., headaches, poor sleep, untreated mood symptoms); and provide recommendations, which may include treatment interventions, behavioral strategies, and temporary academic or occupational accommodations as warranted.
Difficulties with attention, executive function, social-emotional functioning, communication, and learning can impact every aspect of a person’s life from school, to work, to relationships, and general everyday functioning. For a variety of reasons, neurodevelopmental and/or learning challenges can go undiagnosed throughout childhood/adolescence. A neuropsychological evaluation can help identify these factors and provide a treatment plan for managing issues and improving functioning, including recommending accommodations for school or work as warranted.
Medical conditions such as chronic sleep disruption, chronic pain, medication and substance use, epilepsy, cancer and its treatments, infections, endocrine dysfunction, autoimmune disorders, and normal pressure hydrocephalus can all impact cognitive function.
Additionally, psychiatric conditions such as anxiety, depression, and trauma responses can negatively impact thinking skills. A neuropsychological assessment can help determine underlying causes of changes in thinking and behavior and help with treatment planning.
While illness, injury, and/or genetics play a role in how our brains and cognition change over time, there are many things we can do to positively impact how our brains age, including optimizing cognition for continued high functioning output and/or delaying or preventing the onset of cognitive impairment. Physical activity, sleep, nutrition, cognitive and social engagement, and management of vascular risk factors and overall health are some of the key target areas of healthy cognitive aging. A brain health consultation is an opportunity to assess functioning in areas vital to optimal cognitive aging and identify individualized recommendations as needed for improvement. Dr. Crittenden has expertise in translating the most current brain health research into personalized practice for her patients.