Clock drawing: What can it tell you besides the time?

ALL THAT FROM A CLOCK?

The clocks above represent a variety of patient drawings.  The clock affords the neuropsychologist a view of several important cognitive functions in the person who is asked to draw the clock.  Drawing a clock is not threatening to patient’s – who can become defensive and angry when they first realize the reason why they were dragged to the neuropsychologist in the first place.  Many forget after their anger after a period of rapport has been established.  The clock is one of my favorite cognitive tasks.  Unfortunately these did not reproduce very clearly for the website.  No identifying data is displayed.

COGNITIVE FUNCTIONING

The clock tell you about many cognitive features including problem solving, visual organization, graphic formulation, spatial planning, long-term memory, short-term memory, and a few other things.  It takes no artistic ability whatsoever.  Some patient’s become very frustrated and draw so quickly it is difficult to attribute their construction to anything except their behavior.  It can be a rich experience when you gain a compliant effort on the clock drawing.  I usually ask the patient “what do you think about your clock?”  Many reply “I’m no artist ” with insulted incredulity but are able to tolerate the task itself.  It takes only 15 minutes and it lends itself to a good neurocognitive screening.  Better yet, you have the chance to join with a patient on a 1:1 basis and experience a snapshot of what they are dealing with and why they were referred to you for evaluation. See for yourself by watching the YouTube video that is below.  I hope you enjoy it.

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