Clinical Neuropsychology is a specialty within the field of psychology that focuses on measuring brain functions that "drive" behavior.
Behavior is the "observable" result of activity that is generated within and across complex, integrated, functionally connected circuits in the brain.
Clinical neuropsychologists use scientific, statistical, methods to measure the brain functions "expressed" through behavior, such as thinking skills, personality traits, psychological adjustment, and psychiatric symptoms.
Measurement of those areas is required in order to accurately diagnose neurological, psychological, cognitive, and psychiatric disorders and to design effective treatment and intervention plans. Treatment and service recommendations depend on good diagnosis, and diagnosis is only as good as the assessment data that informs it.
Objective data is obtained through neuropsychological assessment and testing.
Cognitive functions, or "thinking abilities," as well as personality characteristics, psychiatric symptoms, and psychological adjustment are objectively and non-invasively measured with standardized, valid and reliable, psychometrically sound, paper and pencil tests.
Some examples of "thinking abilities" include, but are not limited to:
aspects of intelligence, intellectual functioning
attention, concentration, working memory
mental speed, concentration,
language skills, verbal learning and memory
visual-spatial skills, visual spatial learning and memory
academic achievement and learning disorders
executive functions, including complex problem solving, mental flexibility, impulse control, reasoning, planning, and anticipation of consequences
A comprehensive neuropsychological assessment always includes objective measurement of psychiatric symptoms and personality characteristics that contribute to behavior.