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The role of the neuropsychologist in memory clinics

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Abstract

International recommendations and guidelines on the diagnosis and management of cognitive impairment highlight the relevance of a multidimensional approach with increasing attention to well-established cognitive evaluations and interventions. Memory clinics represent a model that offers the expertise of several health specialties. This commentary aims at detailing the contribution of the neuropsychologist in this setting, and highlighting the need of implementing its presence in all the dedicated services. The neuropsychologist can offer an expertise that can be employed both in clinical routes and research, being able to synergistically interact with all the other health specialists involved in memory clinics. The role of the neuropsychologist in cognitive impairment diagnosis includes the development and the administration of comprehensive test batteries and the determination of both the degree of impairment and the cognitive profile, thus contributing to differential diagnoses. In the management of cognitive impairment, the neuropsychologist expertise can contribute in care planning and monitoring, in administering cognition-focused interventions, and in measuring treatment response. In cognitive impairment research, beyond the development and administration of test batteries, the neuropsychologist can contribute actively to the choice of cognitive study outcomes, data analysis, and results interpretation within an interdisciplinary framework. An overview of the actual weight of neuropsychologists in Italian memory clinics shows that, despite the presence of a psychologist in the team could be felt as an added value, several difficulties are still encountered in the integration of this figure as a permanent member. Efforts need to be made in this direction.

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Acknowledgments

This paper was presented at the XXVIII National Congress of the Società Italiana di NeuroGeriatria (December 13-14, 2018 - Rome).

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Correspondence to Leonardo Pantoni.

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Salvadori, E., Pantoni, L. The role of the neuropsychologist in memory clinics. Neurol Sci (2020) doi:10.1007/s10072-020-04253-4

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Keywords

  • Neuropsychology
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Memory clinic
  • Dementia