Foundations of Neuropsychology

Foundations of Neuropsychology

Barre Vijaya Prasad (All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), India & Dharwad Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, India), Sumit Kumar (Jawaharlal Nehru University, India) and Shazia W. Ali (Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), India)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 28
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2860-0.ch007


Neuropsychology is one of the branches in neuroscience (or sub-branch of psychology) that seeks to understand the brain structure and further relates it with specific human behavior and psychological processes. Neuropsychology's central aim is to understand how the brain produces behavior, mental processes, and cognition and then applies it for diagnosis and treatment of different behavioral and cognitive defects in various neurological disorders. Neuropsychology is a field that draws information and material from neurology, cognitive psychology, and psychiatry and also act as a junction point for investigators belonging to related disciplines. Its central aim is to understand how brain functioning influences behavior and cognition. Further, the chapter discusses the relationship between structure and function of the brain, the rise of neuropsychology as a distinct discipline, logic of cerebral organization, and localization and lateralization of functions. Finally, the authors had also explain the approaches and methodologies of clinical and cognitive neuropsychologists.
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Chapter Outline

  • Introduction

  • Relationship between structure and function of the brain

  • The rise of neuropsychology as a distinct discipline

  • Logic of cerebral organization

  • Localization and lateralization of functions

  • Approaches and methodologies of clinical and cognitive neuropsychologists


Relationship Between Structure And Function Of The Brain

The study of the brain is relatively a newer field as pre-medieval peoples held the impression that the heart is central point for thinking rather than brain. The focus of European renaissance was the revival of classical art, literature, philosophy, music, architecture, and also placed a particular emphasis on humanism. During that period, there was a renewed interest to understand the human body and its association with the mind. Although different philosopher tried to associate the different behavior function with various brain parts but failed miserably due to lack of strong foundation. They studied the ventricles or cavities surrounding the brain, corpus callosum, pineal and pituitary glands, although their exact function was still a mystery in that time. Descartes in 1664, first time documented the pineal gland as a junction point of all body sensory inputs and provide a non-physical sense of awareness. The first real effort to unravel the brain-behavior phenomena was made by an Austrian physician named Gall, and his student Spurzheim (Figure 1a). Gall agreed that the brain is the main control center of the body, consisting of 27 compartments, and further differentiating it into grey and white matter. He also associated the aphasia or impaired language production with frontal damage. Spurzheim had a deep interest in brain anatomy. He divided the brain into the different part with assign function, its connections with the spinal cord, and furthers its involvement in muscles control.

The seminal work of Gall and Spurzheim lead to the birth of “science of phrenology”, studying the individual personality and other features based on skull physical size and shape (Figure 1b). However, soon phrenology was demised due to lack of any proof and further disproving it through experiments by Pierre Flourens. Then, French physicians, Bouillaud, and Dax had independently described a handful of patients they had lost the speech after brain damage.

Figure 1.


Key Terms in this Chapter

Localization: Localization of function is the idea that certain functions (e.g., language, memory, etc.) have certain locations or areas within the brain. This idea has been supported by recent neuroimaging studies, but was also examined much earlier, typically using case studies.

Lateralization: The lateralization of brain function is the tendency for some neural functions or cognitive processes to be specialized to one side of the brain or the other. The medial longitudinal fissure separates the human brain into two distinct cerebral hemispheres, connected by the corpus callosum.

Cerebral Cortex: The cerebral cortex is the thin layer of the brain that covers the outer portion (1.5mm to 5mm) of the cerebrum. It is covered by the meninges and often referred to as gray matter. The cortex is gray because nerves in this area lack the insulation that makes most other parts of the brain appear to be white

Neuropsychology: Is a branch of psychology that is concerned with how the brain and the rest of the nervous system influence a person's cognition and behaviors. More importantly, professionals in this branch of psychology often focus on how injuries or illnesses of the brain affect cognitive functions and behaviors.

Brain: A brain is an organ that serves as the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals. It is located in the head, usually close to the sensory organs for senses such as vision. It is the most complex organ in a vertebrate's body. In a human, the cerebral cortex contains approximately 14–16 billion neurons, and the estimated number of neurons in the cerebellum is 55–70 billion. Each neuron is connected by synapses to several thousand other neurons. These neurons communicate with one another by means of long protoplasmic fibers called axons, which carry trains of signal pulses called action potentials to distant parts of the brain or body targeting specific recipient cells.

Cognitive Psychology: Cognitive psychology is the scientific study of mental processes such as attention, language use, memory, perception, problem solving, creativity, and thinking.

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