William B. Barr

Crises in Neuropsychology: Are We Meeting the Technological Demands of a Changing World?

William B. Barr, Ph.D. 

NYU-Langone Health, Associate Professor of Neurology & Psychiatry, NYU-Grossman School of Medicine, New York, NY USA.


Dr. William Barr is the Director of the Neuropsychology Division in the Department of Neurology at NYU-Langone Medical Center in New York City and is an Associate Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at the NYU-Grossman School of Medicine. Dr. Barr is board certified in clinical neuropsychology through ABPP/ABCN and has over 30 years of experience in clinical practice, training, and research with a number of different clinical populations, focusing on epilepsy and mild traumatic brain injury. He is on the editorial boards of four professional journals. He has also served on committees and boards for various neuropsychological and psychological organizations over many years, including a term as President of the Society for Clinical Neuropsychology (Division 40) of the American Psychological Association (APA).  He continues to have active research programs on cognitive and behavioral aspects of epilepsy, sports concussion, and forensic neuropsychology. He also studies the history of neuropsychology, using that knowledge in an attempt to understand the field’s struggles with adapting to modern technologies, which is the topic of today’s presentation.


There has been a technology crisis in the field of clinical neuropsychology, which has existed now for many years. The field’s general failure to adopt digital assessment methodologies over the past 30 years has been costly, particularly in the midst of the current global COVID-19 crisis, where needs have suddenly arisen for many of us to conduct virtual encounters with our patients for both assessment and treatment. The aim of this presentation is to discuss how we got to this point, while offering directives on how we might move ahead. We will begin with a brief historical introduction to the development of our core assessment methodology. This will be followed by a presentation of data from published surveys on neuropsychological test usage that will demonstrate that the field has been rather slow in making changes to the tests used in clinical practice, with little progress made in developing or utilizing new test paradigms or adapting to advances made in computer technology. There are also indications that the field has failed to make adjustments in producing new and effective testing methods and norms that are applicable to  the changing demographics encountered in many countries and to the demands introduced by ongoing public health crises that are encountered more and more across the globe. There will be a review of possible directions we can take in adopting digital technology and enhance our ability to provide quality assessment and care to the patients we serve, in both virtual and office settings.