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What is Neuropsychology?
This is a subspecialty of medicine that focuses on the structure and function of the brains they relate to psychological behaviors and processes.
It aims at understanding how cognition and behavior are influenced by brain function. It also focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and management of cognitive and behavioral effects due to neurological disorders.Who is a neuropsychologist?
This is a medical doctor who specializes in providing assessments and treatment recommendations for people with neurological disorders.Why see a neuropsychologist?
Neuropsychologists provide treatments that employ behavioral, cognitive, educational or psychosocial methods. They have advanced skills in assessing, diagnosing as well as treating an array of neurological disorders. They have the expertise to understand the behavioral, cognitive and emotional effects of a wide range of conditions.A neuropsychologist helps people who are experiencing difficulties with:
Diagnostic methods and tools
- Decision making
- Problem solving
- Behavioral and thinking abilities
- Growth and development
- Toxic poisoning
- Cortical dysplasia
- Standardized neuropsychological tests : These tests have been designed such that the performance of the task can be linked to specific neurocognitive processes. The test is standardized which means that they have been administered to a specific group of individuals before being used in individual clinical cases.
- Brain scans : Brain scans are used to investigate the structure and function of the brain with high-resolution pictures or by observing the relative activations of various brain areas. Brain scans use technologies which yield data related to function or structure such as:
- Positron emission tomography (PET)
- Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Computed axial tomography (CAT or CT)
This uses electrophysiological measures which are designed to measure the activation of the brain by measuring the magnetic or electrical field produced by the nervous system. This may include magnetoencephalography (MEG) or electroencephalography (EEG)Experimental tasks
This uses specially designed experimental tasks often controlled by computers to measure the accuracy and reaction time on particular tasks. The tasks are thought to be related to specific neurocognitive processes.Software products
This uses gaming technology which researchers have mapped to neural activity in the brain through brain scans.Neuropsychology subspecialties
- Experimental neuropsychological: This approach uses experimental psychology methods to investigate the relationship between cognitive function plus the nervous system.
- Clinical neuropsychology: This approach uses neuropsychological knowledge to assess, manage and rehabilitate people who have suffered injury or illness (especially to the brain) which has resulted in neurocognitive problems.
- Cognitive Neuropsychology: This approach aims at understanding the mind and brain by studying people who have suffered neurological illness or brain injury.
- Connectionism: This approach uses artificial neural networks to model particular cognitive processes using simplified but plausible models of how neurons operate.
- Functional neuroimaging: This approach uses specific neuroimaging technique to take readings from the brain. It is performed when a person is doing a particular task. It aims at understanding how the activation of particular brain areas is related to the task.
Neuropsychological treatments are specifically designed for individual patients. They take into account the patient’s unique psychological needs and personalities.
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