Neuropsychological Treatment After an Aneurysm

Many patients recovering from surgery to repair an aneurysm experience some degree of emotional difficulties and/or cognitive changes. A therapy called cognitive remediation — also known as cognitive rehab or cognitive rehabilitation — can help.

Cognitive dysfunction is a frequent complication of an aneurysm or the surgery to repair it. The aneurysm and the surgery may cause physical changes to brain tissue and can lead to diffuse cognitive deficits, including problems with attention, memory, executive functioning, and information processing. 

Executive functioning problems include difficulty with executing “everyday actions,” such as carrying out a sequence of actions, planning a task, beginning a task, knowing when one has completed a task, or even becoming “lost” while in the middle of a task.  Executive functioning problems are highly related to problems carrying out everyday activities.

An aneurysm may also affect mood and emotions, and this is not simply a reaction to being diagnosed with a frightening cerebrovascular condition. The area of the brain where the aneurysm is located determines what functions are affected. For example, conditions in the left temporal lobe are associated with low mood, but on the right side can produce manic reactions. An anomaly in the frontal lobe will often modify emotional processing and behavior. 

Cognitive remediation combined with cognitive behavioral therapy is a valuable treatment to help a patient overcome all of these difficulties. Cognitive remediation treatment can teach long-lasting skills that help restore everyday functioning and optimize quality of life.  Research has demonstrated that cognitive remediation interventions that incorporated elements of memory, information processing, and attention led to significant improvements in a number of cognitive areas.

The good news is that everyone, even after an aneurysm, has intact cognitive abilities and strengths. Cognitive remediation therapy teaches a patient to use those existing abilities to compensate for deficits in other areas. Cognitive remediation in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy incorporates all domains of functioning: emotional, behavioral, and cognitive.

Cognitive rehabilitation is based on the principle of experience-dependent neuroplasticity, meaning that the human brain is not a static organ but can be physically changed when exposed to challenges or exercises. These changes can occur within neural pathways and synapses after exposure to enriched environments. Cognitive remediation provides such an enriched environment.

Behavioral, emotional, and cognitive changes after an aneurysm can be stressful, but with quality treatment a patient can achieve excellent results and a good quality of life.

The Weill Cornell Medicine neuropsychology service within Neurological Surgery is pleased to offer several services to assist patients after an aneurysm, including a comprehensive Cognitive Remediation Program that focuses on improving working memory, attention, and focus.  Find out more about the Cognitive Remediation Program, or for more information, contact Dr. Sacks-Zimmerman at 212-746-3356.

Our Care Team

  • Chair and Neurosurgeon-in-Chief
  • Margaret and Robert J. Hariri, MD ’87, PhD ’87 Professor of Neurological Surgery
  • Vice Provost of Business Affairs and Integration
Phone: 212-746-4684
  • Director of Cerebrovascular Surgery and Interventional Neuroradiology
  • Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery
  • Fellowship Director, Endovascular Neurosurgery
Phone: 212-746-5149
  • Director of Cerebrovascular and Endovascular Neurosurgery, NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist
Phone: 718-780-3070
  • Assistant Professor of Radiology in Neurological Surgery (Manhattan and Queens)
Phone: 212-746-2821 (Manhattan) or 718-303-3739 (Queens)
  • Professor of Radiology in Neurological Surgery
Phone: 212-746-4998
  • Associate Professor, Neurological Surgery
Phone: 718-670-1837
  • Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery (Brooklyn and Manhattan)
Phone: 212-746-2821 (Manhattan); 718-780-3070 (Brooklyn)

Reviewed by: Amanda Sacks-Zimmerman, PhD
Last reviewed/last updated: May 2024

Weill Cornell Medicine Neurological Surgery 525 East 68 Street, Box 99 New York, NY 10065 Phone: 866-426-7787