Neuropsychology is a discipline within neurology and psychology that studies the activities of brain structures and their relationship with human behavior. In this sense, it is also in charge of the study of the normal anatomical bases that are related to mental processes such as language, perception, memory, attention, emotions and execution functions, as well as the alterations and pathologies that affect said bases. . The application of neuropsychology is varied, being able to practice from different areas, such as clinical, academic or research.

What is neuropsychology

This is part of what is known as neuroscience, it studies the relationship between neuroanatomy and the behavior of the human species. It can be focused on healthy people, those who have suffered some type of trauma and those who have a pathology that has altered their neurological functioning.

Among the characteristics of this branch of psychology are:

  • It is responsible for studying mental functions at a higher level, such as language or memory.
  • It clearly presents a scientific component, through the use of hypothetical-deductive and analytical-deductive methods in its study.
  • It works in conjunction with various disciplines such as medicine, pharmacology and biology.
  • Although it can be in charge of the study of both men and animals in general, each field is specialized and studied individually.

Unlike conventional psychology, the neuropsychologist specializes in the study, evaluation and treatment of normal functions and alterations at the level of the central nervous system, with a focus on behavior modification around these characteristics. That is, he receives extensive training in relation to neuroanatomy and treatment of neurological pathologies.

Branches of neuropsychology

There are four branches that specialize individually according to their objectives:

clinical neuropsychology

It is responsible for analyzing all those effects after an injury, abnormal functioning or existing damage to the structures of the central nervous system.

cognitive neuropsychology

It studies the alterations from the cognitive point of view, that is, at the level of emotional, psychological cognitive processes and in the individual behavior of people.

classical neuropsychology

It exists for tens of years and deals with diseases from an orthodox point of view.

child neuropsychology

Branch that is specifically in charge of studying and evaluating the development from the neuroanatomical, behavioral and cognitive point of view of children and adolescents.

history of neuropsychology

Neuropsychology - History of neuropsychology

Neuropsychology began to gain momentum during the 1950s and 1960s, when research and findings from cognitive psychology and brain physiology were integrated into a new field of study.

In the early 19th century, researchers began to methodically observe behaviors resulting from brain injuries and try to locate the damaged areas of the brain.

Around the 19th century, the French-born anthropologist and physician Pierre Paul Broca declared the location of the language center in the third frontal gyrus of the left hemisphere of the brain, which since 1864 has been known as Broca’s area. Later, another forerunner of Broca’s ideas, Franz Joseph Gall, created phrenology, just in the year 1802, alluding to the neuropsychology of language.

Objectives of neuropsychology

The brain is the central and most complex organ of the human body. Everything that happens inside the brain can produce alterations in behavior and cognitive function. To decipher these alterations, it is necessary to have the intervention of a specialist in neuropsychology, a neuropsychologist.

Neuropsychology frequently treats patients with neurological problems, which can include head trauma, stroke, brain tumors, neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, developmental pathologies such as autism, among others.

All these pathologies can be observed together with neuropsychological alterations, presenting relatively characteristic cognitive profiles. Its detection is of the utmost importance to face an adequate treatment.

Areas of action of neuropsychology

Neuropsychology - Areas of action of neuropsychology

Among the disciplines and the field of action of neuropsychologists, the following can be mentioned:

  1. Perform neuropsychological evaluations, as is the case of concentration and memory tests in patients.
  2. Neurorehabilitation, focused mainly on people with cognitive disorders.
  3. Prevention in relation to the development of brain damage.
  4. In the scientific and medical area they specialize in the investigation of alterations at the brain level and their possible sequelae in behavior.
  5. Evaluation, prevention and treatment in children with possible alterations from the neurological point of view.

Master in Neuropsychology

To specialize in neuropsychology both in Mexico and in any country in the world, it is necessary to have experience or knowledge in some scientific areas, for example, in both behavioral and cognitive psychology, biology, developmental neurology, rehabilitation and neuroimaging techniques. Even in the diploma course in neuropsychology, specialized, complete and complex training is needed, therefore, a series of requirements must be met, among them:

  • Have a degree in psychology.
  • Have a postgraduate theoretical training that is specified in this discipline and that lasts at least 500 hours.
  • Demonstrate that you have professional experience of at least 4 years, this means that you have around 4,000 practical hours.

Now, to be able to practice this area, you need a master’s degree, which lasts 500 hours, if you do not have the degree, you must prove your accreditation of 4 years of practical experience in the area.

The focus of this discipline is oriented to the higher mental functions of the brain, that is, language, memory and executive functions of the nervous system, but it also has to do with the functioning of behavior. This discipline uses scientific methods to carry out studies of the brain and its relationship with the behavior of people.

neuropsychology books

Although there are many books that help students and specialists in this discipline, the most basic and important are the following.

Frequently Asked Questions about Neuropsychology

What does neuropsychology study?

It is in charge of studying and relating the neuroanatomical bases with the superior mental functions (memory, language, among others) of a person and their repercussion at the behavioral level.

What diseases does neuropsychology treat?

Multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, complex dementias such as Huntington’s disease, learning disabilities, among others.

How does neuropsychology arise?

It emerged between the 1950s and 1960s, after the discovery and development of specific sciences such as cognitive psychology and brain physiology.

How to study neuropsychology?

The requirements vary according to the country, however it is necessary to have a degree or bachelor’s degree in psychology, as well as general knowledge of biology, neurology, among other related sciences, in addition to having at least 4 years of experience in the clinical area.

What are the application areas of neuropsychology?

This is used in the prevention and treatment of patients with cognitive disorders, through neurorehabilitation, among some of the treatable disorders in this discipline are dementia, learning disabilities, stroke, sequelae after traumatic brain injuries, among others.