Human Neuropsychology

Human Neuropsychology:

Neuropsychology is the study of what partition of the brain are accountable for distinct aspects of behaviors, cognition and personality. Neuropsychologists determine ways to measure how the brain is functioning usually using personality and cognitive tests. Neuropsychological testing is the best way to recognizes and measure the effects of several brain problems ( head injury, dementias, stroke, etc).

Neuropsychology learns the structure & function of the brain as they associate to specific psychological procedure and behaviors. It is seen as experimental and clinical field of psychology which aims to assess, study understand & treat behaviors directly associated to brain functioning. In humans and animals the term neuropsychology has been applied to lesion studies. It has also been applied to attempt to record electrical activity from individual cells (or groups of cells) in higher primates (by including some of the studies of human patients). This is scientific in its scheme, making use of neuroscience, and shares an information processing view of the mind along with cognitive science and cognitive psychology.

Two areas of neuropsychology specialty:

Most of the informational sources on neuropsychology describe the field as comprised of two major areas: cognitive neuropsychology and clinical neuropsychology. It delineation provides a framework which helps describe the two distinct specialties; however, it must be noted that overlap does exist as one specialty area complements & adds up to the knowledge of the other area.

Clinical neuropsychology:

This works in healthcare assessing , settings and treating patients in cases of stroke, head injury or other neurological disorders.

Cognitive neuropsychology:

This works for private and public research institutions conducting empirical studies on those along with brain function deficits. Whereas they interact with patients, they do not provide or treat interventions for patients.

History of Neuropsychology:

In general, Neuropsychology and neuroscience have a history which is quite a bit older than one would think. Written records of nervous system date back in so far as 1700 B.C.  But the bulk of knowledge regarding the brain and its functions did not become known till the 17th century.  It is while men like Thomas Willis and Rene Descartes began studying the human nervous system and how it worked.

Rene Descartes (1596-1650) was the primary scholar of note down to make inclinations regarding the brain having an effect on behavior. He proposed which movements and subsequent behaviors were caused through the flow of 'animal spirits' via the nerves. Descartes saw the nerves such as hollow tubes which transported the fluid causing muscles to be stimulated. It is known as the mechanistic view of behavior. Descartes got the idea while he saw the animated statues of St. Germaine.  These were mechanical statues which operated on water which flowed via tubes in the statues themselves.

The primary detailed 'Anatomy of the Brain' was by Thomas Willis.  This was published in the year of 1664.  Willis had a distinct view of the brain than did Descartes.  He felt that the shape of the brain itself had influence on behavior, instead of the cerebral spinal fluid or the ventricles. Thomas also found that there were two kind of tissue in the brain; and white matter and gray matter. The gray matter built up the outer cortex of the brain whereas the white matter was the fibrous connective tissue determined elsewhere in the brain. However Willis did agree with Descartes regarding the matter of the spirits.  He felt that the white matter was a series of channels utilized to distribute the spirits that were produced in the gray matter.

Even along with Thomas' detailed findings, the brain did not come under particular scientific study until the year of 1800's.

One specific offshoot of neuroscience which had its heart in the right place was phrenology.  Phrenology translates to 'science of the mind' and it is the study of the topography of a person's skull in relation with their brain anatomy. Then it would allow for psychological diagnoses to be made just from investigative a patient's skull. This technique was invented by Franz Josef Gall.  Gall was an accomplished scientist who had done experiments and extensive structural analyses of the brain (human and animal).  He found that the larger the brain, the more complicated, flexible, & intelligent behavior the organism could engage in.  He also built the statement that the brain was the middle of higher mental activity.

The brain has only recently been associated to the behaviors of individuals. It was begun in the year of 1900's while scientists begun to look at how the mind affected people's behaviors.

1913: John Watson illustrates his theory that human behavior is depending upon conditioned responses to stimuli.  His theory goes against eugenics theory that is reaching its height at this time.  It marks the straining of the behaviorist school of psychology.
Eugenics: The theory which human behavior is an inherited trait.

1930's: Scientists attempt to affect the workings of the brain to treat mental illnesses such as, depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.

Lobotomy: Developed by Moniz, was the surgical severing of link in the frontal lobe of patients. Resulted in adverse side effects are like mood problems and changes in personality.

Electro-shock Therapy: Developed by Cerletti & Boni. Utilized electrical shocks to induce positive chemical modification in the brain.  It like lobotomy had detrimental side effects.

The use of both techniques declined in the year of 1950’s after the development of the medication Thorazine.

1950's and 60's: Wilder Penfield identified particular areas of the brain which control motor impulses, memories and sensory inputs,.
1970's and 80's: New scanning devices such as the CT scanner and MRI let for detailed mapping of the brain's functions.

1975: The roles of brain chemicals like endorphins are search for.  Now Behavior is thought of as a biochemical event.

1990's: Along with new knowledge more effective drugs are developed for the treatment of mental illnesses.

Areas of Neuropsychology Expertise:

Here are some more common areas of cognitive research and clinical specialty for today’s neuropsychologists:

•    Alzheimer’s disease
•    Head injuries from sports concussions
•    Autism
•    Stroke
•    Tourette syndrome
•    Alcoholism and addiction
•    Developmental Disorders
•    Multiple Sclerosis
•    Learning disabilities
•    The effect of AIDs on cognition
•    Social & emotional disorders

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