What is Neuropsychology?

While neuropsychology bears many similarities to other sub disciplines in the field, there are a number of unique attributes. These differences make it a fascinating course of specialization to the student of psychology, and offer innumerable insights into the role the brain plays in human behavior, according to Healthline. Below, we’ll explore the finer points of this aspect of psychology, and how it interacts with a broader therapeutic approach.

Structure as the Foundation of Behavior

It’s a problematic argument that has grown long in the tooth; both philosophers and scientists have grappled with it. Where is the seat of consciousness, the Originator of all self-referential thought and action? We’ve sought this invisible I in the brain, but failed to find incontrovertible proof of residence of an observant passenger we know as our Self. While that may be true, we have managed to make excellent use of our growing understanding of neurophysiology.

It has given rise to some fascinating and fruitful disciplines that range from Anthropology to Ecology. Neuropsychology is one of these, seeking to understand how the systems and structures of our physical brains influence our behaviors. How might that translate into occupation? Clinical neuropsychologists have attained the full extent of education in the field of psychology—a Ph.D—but also have specialized training in neurology.

They possess a greater understanding of the functional construction of systems and parts of systems within the brain that enables them to assess the proficiency of types of behavior or skill in a patient. They are qualified to administer tests that gauge the ability or lack thereof in a number of different tasks. What this does is pinpoint where damage or disorder has inhibited the brain’s functional development.

Who They Help

The brain is both a simple and incredibly complex organ. It is comprised of identifiable parts, known systems, and regions that regulate many bodily processes or skill sets. What renders it so complex is how it responds to damage. It appears, based on recent discoveries, that the brain is filled with redundancy, and that’s a good thing.

The strangest aspect of these redundancies is that they don’t seem to adhere to a standard model. Individuals will respond to therapy in a variety of different ways, and healing also seems to be a personal path, rather than a cut-and-dry procedure. That’s why neuropsychologists are essential. They will administer tests that assess an individual’s particular circumstances, take into account what injuries or disorders are relevant, and even construct a regimen of treatment tailored to the patient.

Individuals who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or have an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) will benefit from working with a neuropsychologist. But they aren’t the only people who might be helped. The brain is a delicate biological machine, surging with chemical messengers that shape the development of structures, both in the brain and other parts of the body. Prolonged emotional trauma at critical life stages can have an impact on the physical development of the brain’s systems. A neuropsychologist has the training to recognize these changes and to explore treatment or therapy options.

Related Resource: Developmental Psychology

Unlike other aspects of the overall field, these specialists aren’t focused on a single area—culture, external behavior, or even individual interpretation and expression within group dynamics. While they can assist with psychological therapies and behavioral assessments, their goals are deeper. Specialists trained in neuropsychology seek to understand the physical foundations of thought and action, how it shapes expression, and how it is shaped by culture, nutrition, and other external forces.