Neuropsychology: what is it and what is its object of study?

Before knowing this branch of psychology, it is worth knowing what neuroscience is, because neuropsychology is just that, a science devoted to the nervous system.

Neuroscience, as the name suggests, is a discipline that includes many sciences, which are responsible for studying the nervous system from different points of view, thus contributing to a better understanding and understanding of it: let’s talk about neurology , psychology, biology, chemistry, pharmacology, genetics, among others.

    What is neuropsychology?

    Having understood this, now if we must ask ourselves, what is neuropsychology? It is a neuroscience whose main objective is the study of the brain and the relationship between this organ and the behavior of people. He is interested in both healthy people and those who have suffered brain damage.

    main Features

    These are the aspects that characterize neuropsychology.

    1. Neuroscientific character

    As already mentioned, it is a behavioral neuroscience that relies on the natural scientific method to be able to study the brain, it is assisted by a hypothetico-deductive procedure (it develops a hypothesis, then defeats it or corroborates it, depending on the results that exist after the experiment) and sometimes analytical-inductive. term experiments, in order to be able to test the functional relationship between different controlled variables).

      2. Study of higher mental functions

      He is interested in the study of the neural bases of every human being, And how these correlate with various mental processes such as: thinking, executive functions, language, memory, motor skills, perception, etc.

      3. He has a keen interest in the associative cerebral cortex

      Neuropsychology cares a great deal about this cortex for two specific reasons. The first is that this area of ​​the brain has primary responsibility for all higher cognitive processes. And the second, because it is unfortunately one of the parts which tends to be the most affected in the event of disease or disorder; then resulting in a wide variety of damage to the mental functions already mentioned above.

      While this is not the only area that can result, affections on the corpus callosum, basal ganglia, hippocampus, amygdala, thalamus, and cerebellum also trigger cognitive and emotional impairments.

      4. make a study of adverse effects resulting from brain damage

      The following points should be clarified: neuropsychology and clinical neuropsychology are not the same. The first is devoted to the study of the brain-behavior relationship in healthy subjects, and to some extent can be understood and considered as cognitive neuroscience. And the second only concerns people who suffer damage to their nervous system and the resulting disorders: aphasia, amnesia, apraxia, agnosia, etc.

        5. It focuses solely and exclusively on the human being

        Just as there is “human” neuropsychology, so to speak, there is also neuropsychology which is concerned with the brain-behavior relationship of other species of mammals, each with its own domain, its own specificity.

        It should be noted that there are notable differences between the two, one of which is the fact that the cognitive processes of humans are very different qualitatively and quantitatively from those of animals; for example, the proportion and extent of the neocortex of some animals differ greatly from that of humans.

        The knowledge that can be acquired from the two species also goes in a different direction, it is not possible, for example, to induce experimental lesions of the nervous system in humans (Only in rare cases where there is therapeutic neurosurgery). That is why psychophysiological research with animals has been invaluable in somehow understanding some basic processes of human beings, but in no case are they the same, total generalizations cannot be drawn between what their happens and we, for the same as mentioned above. , there are notable differences between one nervous system and another.

        6. Interdisciplinary

        Neuropsychology was born as an autonomous entity thanks to the contributions and work of many other disciplines such as neurology, biology, neurophysiology, neurochemistry, experimental psychology, pharmacology, cognitive psychology, among others.

        This interdisciplinary character it also means that clinical neuropsychologists work hand in hand with other health professionals for the assessment and treatment of brain injuries: neurologists, neurosurgeons, physiotherapists, language specialists, occupational therapists, clinical psychologists, etc.

        Bibliographical references:

        • Antoni, PP (2010). Introduction to neuropsychology. Madrid: McGraw-Hill.

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