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Plain talk about Neurocognitive Testing.

The WHAT, WHY, and HOW of Neurocognitive Testing.

WHAT is Neurocognitive Testing?

 

Neurocognitive Testing acts like a “physical for your brain”, as it simply evaluates how well the primary areas of your brain are working. Diseases and conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Traumatic Brain Injury, and many others, change the way our brains work, both while at rest and while thinking and processing information. 

 

Neurocognitive Testing actually measures your brain waves while you’re relaxed and during some simple activities. This is done by wearing a mesh cap with sensors inside that communicate with software and record that information. 

 

Once the information is processed, your results and brain function are evaluated based specifically on your age and gender. Because the software is looking at your brain waves, this test is a completely objective measurement. Essentially, you can’t fake your brain waves! For this reason, Neurocognitive Testing is a trusted technology that gives physicians a lot more information to help diagnose Dementia, Alzheimer’s, cognitive impairment, Traumatic Brain Injury, and much more. 

 

WHY should I do this test?

 

The goal of doing a neurocognitive test is to give physicians a way to see how your brain is functioning.  Physicians know the importance of getting an earlier diagnosis of diseases like Dementia/ Alzheimer’s and other cognitive impairments.  You can’t treat what you don’t know.  WIth the information collected through neurocognitive testing, and a formal diagnosis, you and your doctor can be more aggressive about treatment, therapy, and key lifestyle changes to prolong severe symptoms. 

 

While there is currently no cure for Dementia or Alzheimer’s, there are specific steps you can take to slow the disease progression and manage symptoms. Starting and prioritizing these steps earlier is crucial to maintaining your ability to perform day-to-day activities on your own, and keep doing the things you like to do.  Earlier evaluation leads to quicker interventions, which leads to saving more memories.  

HOW is the test performed?

 

Testing equipment:

  1. Mesh EEG cap: The ‘hat’ you wear is like a beanie made out of mesh, just like gym shorts!  It’s a comfortable cap that fits snuggly on your head, with very small sensors throughout the inside. These sensors allow the computer software to see your brain waves and record them.

  2. A drop of gel in each sensor: In order for the sensors to ‘see’ your brain waves, a little drop of gel is put into each of the 19 sensors in the cap.  (Cleaner, easier, and way better than shaving your head!)

  3. Pulse oximeter (finger probe) and 3 EKG stickers: These sensors are strictly receiving information.  They listen to your heart during the test to separate your heart beat from your brain waves.

 

Testing Procedure:

  1. 5 minutes eyes open: all you have to do is sit still, relaxed, and keep your eyes on the blank computer screen.  Try not to blink too much!

  2. 5 minutes eyes closed: sit still and relax, and try not to fall asleep!

  3. 10 minute video game: During this activity, or game portion of the test, you get to hold a ‘trigger’ button.  The laptop screen will flash a small blue circle, a large blue circle, and a checkerboard randomly.  You will also have headphones which will occasionally play a short white noise type sound.  Your job is to push the trigger button only when you see the large blue circle, and ignore everything else.