Neurocognitive functioning tests are conducted to identify strengths and weaknesses in cognitive domains for instance attention and concentration, intellectual capacity, language and communication, and memory (Committee on Psychological Testing, 2015). The test is an essential component in ascertaining treatment responses, predict recovery, and differential diagnosis during an examination of cognitive impairments, brain damage, and neurological diseases (Lewis, 2018). Considerably, misinterpretation of the test, overestimation or underestimation of the results, significantly impacts on treatment, education and other life functions.
Evaluation of the cognitive functions by performance-based tests is in the presence of the examiner (Committee on Psychological Testing, 2015). The assessment is multifactorial, computerized or paper-based, and composed of two components, cognitive and non-cognitive psychological tools. Furthermore, the evaluation process consists of clinical interview, administering standardized non-cognitive and cognitive tests, and lastly professional integration and interpretation of the results (Committee on Psychological Testing, 2015). Analysis of the assessment results is through direct comparison with normative data obtained from the general population.
There are six relevant domains in conducting neurocognitive assessment namely intellectual ability, memory acquisition, language and communication, executive functioning, attention and distractibility (Committee on Psychological Testing, 2015). The six domains impact significantly on an individual’s level of occupational attainment, and also the ability to work. Therefore the person administering the test should ensure the tests are valid, reliable, and credible (Lewis, 2018). The paper is discussing neurocognitive tests for general cognitive/intellectual ability domain test, and language and communication domain tests.
An intellectual ability domain encompasses problem solving, reasoning, and meeting cognitive demands of varying complexity. According to the Committee on Psychological Testing (2015), it is the most critical assessment since it relates closely to occupational attainment and job complexities. Notably, the domain affects social, conceptual and practical functioning. Primary test used in testing intellectual ability is the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale.
Wechsler Adult intelligence Scale is scored based on four individual indexes namely verbal comprehension index, working memory index, perceptual reasoning index, and processing speed index (Committee on Psychological Testing, 2015). The indexes are combined to come up with Full-Scale IQ and General Ability index. The assessment has its strengths and limitations (Stone, 2012). First, the test has a normative sample of 2200 participants recruited from different regions, races, age, educational background and ethnicities. Therefore, it applies to the general population. Secondly, it has ten core subsets and five supplemental subsets (Stone, 2012). The subsets provide a broader domain that adequately describes the magnitude of intelligence, and gives a holistic view of cognitive functions (Committee on Psychological Testing, 2015). However, the complexity of the scoring and interpretation of the scale is a crucial limitation. Equally, due to its complexity, it takes a longer duration of time to administer compared to other intelligence tests.
Another test domain is attention and vigilance. It refers to sustained, divide, shift, and shared a focus on the environment with common distractions. Digital Vigilance Test (DVT) is in assessing attention and vigilance. The test helps in differentiating alertness and vigilance but has minimal effect on selectivity and capacity (Lewis, 2018). The trial has got its strength and weaknesses. First, the scoring and administration of the test can be done by someone with no formal education. Secondly, due to its simplicity, the test can be re-administered with minimal practical effect (Lewis, 2018). However, the low normative population limits its application to the general population.
Lastly, the neurocognitive assessment test such as Digital Vigilance Test, and Wechsler Adult intelligence Scale are necessary tests in occupational rehabilitation. For instance, patients IQ results from the Wechsler Adult intelligence Scale can be used to place patients in careers that do not need advanced reasoning capacity. Additionally, a patient with low scoring in DVT cannot be allowed to engage in occupations such as driving, hence given less attention-demanding jobs for instance shelving books.
Committee on Psychological Testing, I. V. (2015). Psychological Testing in the Service of Disability Determination.
Lewis, R. (2018). DVT | Digit Vigilance Test. Retrieved March 28, 2019, from https://www.parinc.com/Products/Pkey/94
Stone, D. (2012). Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale – Fourth Edition. Retrieved March 28, 2019, from http://psychological-musings.blogspot.com/2012/11/wechsler-adult-intelligence-scale.html