Neuropsychology? Introduction to Neuropsychology

Neuropsychology is the scientific study of the relationship between human brain function and behavior. In other words, neuropsychology aims to explain how the activity of the brain is expressed in terms of observable behavior. Neuropsychology is a highly interdisciplinary field drawing information from various disciplines like neurology, psychology, neuroanatomy, pharmacology, and so on.

Neuropsychology is influenced by two conventional experimental and theoretical studies of the brain function: the brain hypothesis, the idea that the brain is the source of behavior; and the neuron hypothesis, the idea that the unit of brain structure and function is the neuron (Kolb and Whishaw).

Branches of Neuropsychology

  1. Clinical Neuropsychology
  2. Experimental Neuropsychology
  3. Comparative Neuropsychology
  4. Cognitive Neuropsychology

1. Clinical Neuropsychology

Clinical Neuropsychology deals with patients who have lesions of the brain. These lesions may be the effects of disease or tumors, may result from physical damage or trauma to the brain, or be the result of other biochemical changes, perhaps caused by toxic substances (J Graham Beaumont). Clinical psychologists work in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of neurological and psychiatric conditions.

2. Experimental Neuropsychology

Experimental Neuropsychology uses empirical methods to study the physiological structure of the nervous system and how it influences cognition and behavior. Experimental neuropsychologists rely on various techniques such as neuropsychological assessment, brain imaging, EEG to study the higher functions in the brain.

3. Comparative Neuropsychology

Comparative Neuropsychology is the approach of understanding human brain functions by studying the relationships between behavior and neural mechanisms in different animal species including humans. The advantage of working with animals over human beings is more control over complex environmental and genetic influences apart from ethical issues.

4. Cognitive Neuropsychology

Developed in the 1970s, cognitive neuropsychology is relatively a new discipline within neuropsychology. Cognitive psychology aims to understand how the structure ad function of the brain relates to specific psychological processes. Cognitive neuropsychology studies how the structure and function of the brain are related to the psychological processes like perception, reasoning, remembering, and so on. The development of cognitive models have helped in neurological analysis, and the neuropsychological findings have contributed to the development of the cognitive models. 

References:

  • https://dictionary.apa.org/
  • J Graham Beaumont: Introduction to Neuropsychology
  • Introduction to Neuropsychology: John Stirling
  • Arthur Benton, Kenneth M. Adams: Exploring the History of Neuropsychology
  • Fundamentals of Human Neuropsychology by Bryan Kolb, Ian Q. Whishaw
  • https://www.researchgate.net/publication/314045806_Comparative_Neuropsychology

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