A neuropsychological assessment for epilepsy evaluates your child's thinking abilities. It is performed by a neuropsychologist, trained to evaluate brain function and test abilities such as attention, memory, language, and spatial skills. The evaluations are performed to understand how different areas and systems of the brain are working.

A pattern of your child's strengths and weaknesses can be developed and the information is used to help diagnose the type of epilepsy and plan treatment.

The evaluation will assess:

  • Attention and concentration
  • Executive function skills, such as problem solving, abstract reasoning and mental flexibility
  • Intellectual functioning
  • Language
  • Learning and memory
  • Mood and personality
  • Motor skills
  • Visual-spatial skills, such as perception

The neuropsychologist will produce a detailed report about your child's performance and make conclusions about your child's brain function based on the test results.

Your child's test scores can be used to:

  • Establish an understanding of your child's thinking abilities prior to surgery
  • Help diagnose your child's type of epilepsy
  • Identify your child's strengths and weaknesses
  • Plan your child's treatment
  • Project how your child functions in different situations

Preparing for Assessment

The assessment usually involves testing and an interview. Be prepared to answer questions about your child's symptoms, medical history, medications, schooling and social history.

The neuropsychologist will want to review relevant medical records, reports regarding your child's performance in school and reports from previous psychological or neuropsychological evaluations. Please bring copies of these documents to the appointment.

If your child wears glasses or uses a hearing aid, please bring these as well.

Testing can take from one to six hours, depending on how detailed the assessment is. Prior to the assessment, your child should get a good night’s sleep and eat a good breakfast. It is also helpful to bring snacks and lunch, since for school-age children the assessment often concludes in the afternoon.

Tests may range from easy to difficult. The most important thing is for your child to try his or her best. Many children find the testing interesting and challenging. During the assessment your child may be rewarded for good effort — with praise, stickers or perhaps a small prize. If your child finds certain items or activities particularly rewarding, feel free to bring them to the appointment.

More Information

If you have any questions about your child's assessment or appointment, please call the UCSF Epilepsy Center at (415) 353-2437.