Neurocognitive Testing

Neurocognitive Testing


Neurocognitive testing provides information regarding a patient’s cognitive abilities. Neurocognitive tests are used to measure changes in cognitive functioning following injuries, such as concussions, or the onset of certain diseases, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

What Do Neurocognitive Tests Measure?

Neurocognitive testing uses computerized or paper-and-pencil based tasks to measure cognitive domains such as:

  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Problem-solving ability
  • Language skills
  • Processing speed
  • Reaction Times
  • Emotional changes

What Kind of Neurocognitive Testing is Used for Concussion?

Pioneered by the experts at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, ImPACT® is the most widely used and scientifically validated computerized evaluation system for concussion. ImPACT aids in the diagnosis and assessment of concussions and is used by many professional organizations. Most MLB, NHL, and NFL teams, as well as more than 7,400 high schools, 1,000 colleges and universities, 900 clinical centers, select military units, and international organizations such as Cirque du Soleil and the Irish and South American rugby teams use ImPACT.

What Does the ImPACT Test Measure?

ImPACT yields a graph of composite scores in five symptom areas, plus a total symptom composite. The symptom areas include:

  • Verbal memory
  • Visual memory
  • Processing speed Reaction Time
  • Impulse Control

Test results can vary widely depending on age, gender, education level, and history of learning disability or attention problems.

The ImPACT test alone does not diagnose a concussion. The experts at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program use the results:

  • To establish baseline data when a player is in a non-concussed or “normal” state.
  • As part of a complete evaluation process to manage head injuries more accurately.

When Should the ImPACT Test Be Conducted?

The ImPACT® test can be conducted before, during, and after cases of a suspected concussion. If conducted before a concussion occurs, the ImPACT identifies a baseline of cognitive ability. Clinicians can use baseline data in comparison with ImPACT results after a suspected concussion to measure the scope of the injury, and to develop the most appropriate treatment plan. ImPACT testing helps monitor recovery, as well as the effectiveness of a rehabilitation program.

UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program neuropsychologists advise baseline concussion testing for children:

  • Ages 12 and under — each year
  • Ages 13 and older — every two years

The UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program is a Certified ImPACT™ Consultation (CIC) testing location. A CIC is an ImPACT partner with the education, training, and experience that come with completing the credentialed consultant program.

HeadsUP Pittsburgh

HeadsUP Pittsburgh is a partnership between UPMC Sports Medicine, the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), the Community College of Beaver County (CCBC), and the Centers for Disease Control to provide baseline ImPACT testing for youth athletes in western Pennsylvania.