One of the 'hidden' secrets of psychologists is their use of psychology tests. These are specific procedures with which a psychologist can examine a person. In the case of brain injury, usually a qualified neuropsychologist will do the testing and/or interpretation of the test results. I want to focus here on special psychology tests, used to examine brain dysfunction, for example after a brain injury. They are also called neuropsychological tests. It is underestimated in the general public, but also by other professionals, how important good tests are.
The basis of all conclusions that a (neuro)psychologist draws, is usually after testing and all observations in testing someone. Of course, the story of a patient and the accompanying family member is relevant as well. But in neuropsychology, studying the relationship between brain and behavior, the psychology test results are by far the most important tools to draw valid conclusions about brain functions. Therefore, some very expensive and comprehensive books are written about all tests neuropsychology has nowadays. Although these books are available for everyone in a book store, meaning that the 'hidden or secret' information about these procedures is freely available, usually the (to-be) patient does not shop around to buy such books. Also, the information in professional journals about testing is available for a lay person, albeit after payment.
I strongly advocate free floating knowledge, not to be misunderstood as 'free' in free of charge. I sincerely think that everyone should have easy access to information that is or will be important to him or her. Especially when health or wellness issues are involved. Now, the information on neuropsychological testing is not readily available to all potential patients and their families. Because tests are such an important tool for a neuropsychologist, and such strong conclusions can be drawn from them, you should know more about them.
Let me put it very clearly here: I do NOT mean to give you any information how to influence the test results in a positive way so that a neuropsychological assessment (examination) would become biased. No, I merely want you to know about how a neuropsychological or brain injury test looks like, what to expect, and how we as neuropsychologists can tell something about your brain. I will try to maintain a balance between giving as much information as I can and hiding information that could influence a test negatively. For example, giving test descriptions would be no problem at all because such descriptions are freely available on Wikipedia and in several books (e.g. Lezak). However, explaining in detail all strategies you can use to perform excellently on a test, will not be given.
Another very important mission I have with these pages is not so much for the general (lay) public. It is meant as well for test developers, publishers, clinicians and researchers. To get inspired by reading about aspects of a psychology test or its underlying philosophy. I would like to see them inspired to make even better neuropsychological tests, to buy the better ones available, and to join efforts to better standardize and norm good psychology tests in a way that requires hardly any money and energy. A central database of discussing neuropsychological tests, exchanging data and thereby stimulating a better test development, would be nice. Without infringing on copyrights!
Following the links below psychology tests will be discussed in their specific cognitive domains meaning: attention, memory, language, problem solving, perception. In another page on Test Psychology, criteria for what I personally see as a good neuropsychological test will be given. This will help readers to co-evaluate my discussion of tests and to stimulate their ideas.
It is certainly not my intention to discuss every available neuropsychological test in the world. That task has already been done (or tried) in very large books (literally). No, I will focus on what I see as valuable tests in clinical practice using criteria which are either accepted in science or rather new (of my own making). Because I am a small test developer myself I will discuss (of course) my own commercially available tests. Of course, one of my goals is to sell more of my own tests, let that be very clear. I am not a saint (in case someone should think that)! But another reason is that I will use my own tests as an example of discussing neuropsychological tests on the Internet. Also I want to stimulate reviews of customers of these tests, so that potential buyers can make their minds up about what tests they would want to use.