What Do Neuropsychologists Do?
Neuropsychologists are psychologists who primarily research and apply psychology to problems in brain function and behaviour. Neuropsychologists design and test tests to see how much or how little these questions can tell us about how the brain works, the function of its parts, and how it changes over time. Neuropsychologists are sometimes called cognitive psychologists, neuroscientists, or neuropsychologists, but are also sometimes referred to as psychologists in general.
To the extent possible, neuropsychologists attempt to understand how the brain works so that they can improve the lives of people who are suffering as a result of having brain damage due to neurodegenerative diseases, traumatic brain injuries, and other conditions. Neuropsychologists also use their knowledge to develop and evaluate assessment tools to help diagnose the brain function problems of those who have had severe injuries or trauma or are otherwise unable to function normally. Even when an injury or trauma can cause no noticeable problems, neuropsychologists help people adapt to life without normal cognitive functioning.
To be neuropsychologists, one must have a doctoral degree in psychology and must do research in brain function and behaviour. To gain a doctorate in psychology, one must complete one year of graduate study in psychology with a focus on brain function. To obtain a PhD in psychology, one normally needs a bachelor’s degree and an internship.
For a PhD in neuropsychology, one is required to have a degree in psychology. One must study one’s master’s theses (thesis) in psychology to earn a master of fine arts. One can earn a master’s degree from a university, but one also can take additional graduate studies to earn a PhD. Usually this involves the study of several years in graduate school.
Becoming a Neuropsychologist
An advanced, intensive doctoral degree can help aspiring neuropsychologists become better, more knowledgeable clinicians.
Neuropsychology is the study of neurology and psychology’s relationship in a person’s mental function. As part of this scientific field, neuropsychologists are the experts who are supposed to be listening in order to understand each person’s individual neurological functioning at the neurological level. They are trained to recognize and quantify brain damage and to communicate neurological information about neurological functioning so that doctors can understand their patients’ problems.
In clinical settings, neuropsychologists help their patients to diagnose and treat problems related to their neurological health. Neuropsychologists are also the experts who are supposed to detect any brain dysfunction, diagnose brain disorders, and monitor the evolution of any brain disorder in order to diagnose and follow medical intervention as necessary. Neuropsychologists who have completed an advanced neuropsychology doctoral degree develop new diagnostic tools and perform new research to advance neuropsychology.
Some advanced neuropsychology doctoral programs focus their clinical focus on specific brain-related disorders or clinical concerns, such as the study of Alzheimer’s disease, autism, and schizophrenia or neurodevelopmental disorders. Others focus on neuropsychological assessment and management of a more general nature, such as dementia or memory loss.
Other advanced neuropsychology doctoral programs, if they are research-focused, are designed to develop new diagnostic methods and new treatment methods. Other advanced neuropsychology doctoral programs may focus on neuropsychological evaluation of human memory functioning. If neuropsychology doctoral programs become research focused, they may investigate the brain and its role in memory functioning and the cognitive development.
Neuropsychology Careers and Degree Programs
The clinical neuroscientist focuses on the relationship between brain function and behavior and studies the underlying etiologies of disorders. The neuroscientist uses techniques such as behavioral analysis, electrophysiology, neuroanatomy, and brain biochemistry to study brain function.
Neuropsychology and neuroscience are interdisciplinary fields that combine the neurosciences with the disciplines of psychology, psychiatry, neurosurgery, and neuropsychology. Neuropsychologists are also interested in mental health and other behavioral health indicators as well as cognitive disorders. The field is concerned with the understanding of various disorders, including traumatic brain injury, stroke, epilepsy, schizophrenia, and depression.
The following is a list of degree programs and related careers in the sub-areas of neuropsychology (Neuropsychology), neurological psychology (Neurological Psychology), memory psychology (Neuropsychology and Memory Assessment, Memory Assessment Technologies), neuro psychopharmacology (Neuro psychopharmacology), clinical neuropsychology (Clinical Neuropsychology), and psychological neuroscience (Neuropsychological Developmental and Psychosocial Aspects of Psychiatric Disorders, Psychosocial Aspects of Psychiatric Disorders, and Neuropsychological Developmental Aspects of Psychiatric Disorders).