Skip to main content

What is Clinical Neuropsychology?

Neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist trained to examine the link between a patient’s brain and behavior. They are specialists in helping understand how injury, illness, and developmental concerns can cause changes in an individual’s thinking, memory, judgment, behavior, and emotional functioning. UNC PM&R’s Neuropsychologists work with children, adolescents, and adults.

The primary goal of this service is to use results of an evaluation to collaborate with the patient and develop a treatment plan that best fits the patient’s needs. The evaluation will determine the person’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses to help inform diagnosis and provide treatment recommendations and compensatory strategies to improve well-being and functioning.

Patients who may benefit from a neuropsychological evaluation include those with:

  • neurological disorder such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other dementias, multiple sclerosis
  • An acquired brain injury from concussion or more severe head trauma, stroke, hydrocephalus, lack of oxygen, brain infection, brain tumor, or other cancers
  • Other medical conditions that may affect brain functioning, such as genetic disorders, chronic heart, lung, kidney, or liver problems, diabetes, breathing issues, lupus, or other autoimmune diseases
  • neurodevelopmental disorder such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, learning difficulties, attention disorders, or autism spectrum disorder
  • Problems with or changes in thinking, memory, or behavior with no clear cause

What happens during evaluation?

The evaluation will be tailored to address the patient’s specific concerns about functioning, and can address the following:

  • General intellectual ability and/or abilities in reading, writing, or math
  • Problems with/changes in attention, memory, thinking abilities, or language
  • Changes in emotional or behavioral functioning

During the evaluation, the patient may complete cognitive tasks using standardized measures to identify the need for further evaluation or treatment. These tasks often measure a patient’s abilities for learning, memory, language, attention, visuospatial functioning, fine motor skills, mood, personality, and adaptive functioning. Baseline assessments and repeat testing to measure improvement or decline over time may also be used.

The evaluation may last between 3-6 hours and typically includes:

  1. Interview with the patient and possibly family members/caretakers.
  2. Assessment:
    • Typically, testing involves a combination of one-on-one tests of thinking involving paper/pencil or a tablet, along with questionnaires. Patients will be asked to do things like remember stories, read words, answer questions, and reason their way through puzzles. The tests are not pass-fail and it is only expected that patient’s try their best.
    • Breaks are allowed during testing and the patient will work individually with a trained examiner in a quiet, private setting.
  3. Interpretive feedback session with recommendations.
  4. Full written report upon completion.

How will the evaluation help me?

  • Make or confirm a diagnosis
  • Informing patient care and helping you and your doctor decide on the next steps in treatment
  • Emphasize brain-behavior relationships to explain why problems may be occurring at home, at work, at school, or in other settings
  • Provide personalized recommendations for compensatory strategies and treatment in home, school, work, and community settings as well as providing connections to community-based resources and care
  • Record changes in functioning before and after medical treatment or surgery

Your Appointment and Location Details

Prior to arrival

  • Please try to get a full night’s rest, eat a good meal, and take your normal medications before arriving at your evaluation appointment.

What to bring

  • If you have received all of your relevant medical care at UNC, you do no need to bring any medical records.
  • Please bring any records of previous evaluations you have completed at other facilities (developmental, psychological, speech/language, OT, PT, and school evaluations) if you are able.
  • For school-aged children, please bring any school records and a copy of the child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 plan from school, if there is one.
  • Feel free to bring water or other beverages and snacks for breaks during the evaluation.
  • Plan to be at the office for an extended amount of time. If you are accompanying a patient, you may want to bring a book, tablet, or other work to busy yourself while the patient completes their evaluation.

Training Site

We serve as a training site for psychology graduate students, psychology pre-doctoral interns, and neuropsychology postdoctoral fellows.

Clinical Neuropsychologists

Hannah Allen, PhD
Peter Duquette, PhD (ABPP-CN)
Matthew Harris, PhD, (ABPP-CN)
Robert Kanser, PhD
Karla Thompson, PhD
Nicole Warrick, Psy.D


Outpatient Care


Download our Neuropsychology Consult Flyer

Become a Partner

Your gift will enable us to advance our mission of providing excellence in rehabilitation through patient care, state-of-the-art research and education. Your tax-deductible donation, whether large or small, makes a tremendous impact locally and globally.