Neuropsychology Glossary

Attention and Concentration: this refers to an individual's ability to focus, sustain and switch their attentional resources appropriately.

Verbal Intelligence: this refers to an individual's level of acquired intelligence. This acquired knowledge is typically developed through schooling and other forms of education. It is often considered a marker for an individual's 'premorbid' level of functioning as it represents, on average, what someone was able to accumulate when they were able to apply their cognitive resources prior to any brain damage.

Visuospatial/Non-verbal reasoning and problem solving: this refers to the more visual and fluid aspects of intellectual ability. Performance here is far less dependent upon an individuals formal level of education or knowledge of the English language. Performance on these tests represents what is often considered to be a 'culture-fair' indicator of intellectual ability. Typically , as these tests attempt to avoid reliance on English language abilities, they are presented within a visual and spatial format.

Working Memory and mental flexibility: this refers to those abilities that relate to the temporary storage, organisation and utilisation of information in one's mind. This information is used to guide and evaluate ongoing behaviour and decision making.

Anterograde Memory: this refers to those abilities that are necessary for the acquisition, storage and retrieval of newly learned information. This ability can be divided in terms of the nature of the to-be-remembered material, i.e. material presented within the auditory versus visual modality.

Language function: this refers, in the neuropsychological setting, mainly to verbal fluency, both phonemic and semantic and visual confrontation naming. In addition to these formal measures of language functioning qualitative assessment of language function is also undertaken. A complete and detailed assessment of language abilities is usually undertaken by a Speech and Language Therapist.

Processing Speed: this refers to the speed with which cognitive abilities can be utilised in relation to specific task demands.

Executive function: this is a broad concept that incorporates many facets. Some of these can be tapped, to some extent, through formal cognitive assessment, but many aspects of this domain are only really apparent through the skilful evaluation of an individual using multiple sources of evidence. This domain refers to the highest level of cognitive function and is typically thought to be important in such things as planning, organisation, time management, adaptability to changing task demands, social appropriateness of behaviour, etc. In essence executive function refers to the ability of an individual to appropriately make use of their abilities in applying themselves to achieve a goal in a culturally appropriate way.