What Skills Do You Need to Be a Neuropsychologist?

This article will answer the question “What skills do you need to be a neuropsychologist?” It will also discuss in detail what is neuropsychology, what neuropsychologists do, how neuropsychologists evaluate the brain, what is cognitive neuroscience, and the speciality areas under neuroscience. In the end, the article will address some frequently asked questions.

What Skills Do You Need to Be a Neuropsychologist?

Neuropsychologists have the skills to be investigative, inquisitive, and curious. They spend a lot of time alone with their thoughts and contemplating them. They tend to be social and are able to talk to people as well as persuade or help them.

They have higher scores on openness to experience. This means their personality type is that of someone who is creative, and imaginative, and they also value variety or differences. They are also agreeable and this means they are sensitive to the needs of others. They value harmony. 

They also tend to be highly intelligent, punctual, and analytical. They go beyond what is known to the eye in order to diagnose effectively and correctly. 

What is a neuropsychologist?

Neuropsychologists are psychologists that specialise in understanding how behaviours interact with the brain. They understand the relationship between the brain and the behaviours people engage in. They also try to understand how disorders of the brain and the nervous system can affect the behaviour and cognitive functioning of an individual.

A neuropsychologist’s role is to understand how the structures of the brain and the systems of the brain affect behaviour and thinking. They usually have a doctorate in psychology and are trained in neuropsychology. Neuropsychologists often work in clinical settings. They can also work in hospitals. 

What does a neuropsychologist do?

Neuropsychologists study and treat people who have been diagnosed with different brain or nervous system disorders. They work in collaboration with doctors and neurologists.

Illnesses, injuries, as well as disorders of both the brain and the nervous system can affect how our cognitive functioning works. Some symptoms that may mean for you to visit a neuropsychologist include; memory problems, mood disturbances, difficulty in learning, and nervous system dysfunction.

Neuropsychologists help in determining what are the impairments in your brain and the severity. They understand the degree of impairment caused by strokes. 

They also diagnose and study Parkinson’s disease. This is a neurological disorder that can cause several physical dysfunctions. A neuropsychologist can examine the baseline of the condition, and its prognosis, and help in buffering the effects of the disease.

They also study Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia disorders that can cause changes in one’s memory, personality, and cognitive abilities. They study traumatic brain injuries and how they impact functions of reasoning, decision making, and problem-solving. 

They also study learning disabilities and how they develop and affect a person over time. They also develop treatment plans for the same.

Neuropsychological evaluation

The neuropsychological evaluation assesses how your brain functions. The evaluation typically includes interviews and questions to see how you perform on everyday tasks and identify any major memory problems or other concerns. The evaluation also includes information on your symptoms, any medical history that you have, and if you are taking any medications. 

The evaluation uses several standardised and established tests to assess brain functioning in areas of cognitive ability, memory, intelligence, personality, problem-solving, reasoning, emotions, and decision-making.

Brain scans, such as CT or MRI scans, can also help a neuropsychologist make a diagnosis. Let’s look at them in detail below:

Computed Tomography (CT)

Computed Tomography (CT) is a computer-assisted X-ray technique. This creates 3D “slices” of the brain and the spinal cord. These are called tomographic images and give the clinician better and more detailed information than conventional x-rays. 

To form a three-dimensional (3D) image of the patient, these slices are collected by the machine’s computer, they are digitally “stacked” together to form a three-dimensional (3D) image of the patient.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses magnetic and radio waves to generate high-quality pictures of the brain, especially soft tissues. The images are highly detailed.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) uses radioactive tracers in order to evaluate the metabolic function of the nervous system.

Magnetoencephalography (MEG) 

Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is a technique used for mapping the brain. This is done by recording the signals nerves send each other with the help of magnetic receptors.

Electroencephalography (EEG)

In this method, scalp EEG represents the aggregates of post-synaptic currents of millions of neurons. There are two types of brain activities that are reflected through the recorded EEG signals:  

The spontaneous EEG  is one that has been used in a clinical setting for a long time and is usually used to evaluate seizure disorders and reflects neuronal responses that occur in the absence of behavioural. This kind of process is yet to be used in cognitive neuroscience research. (Williamson, Kaufman, Lu, Wang, & Karron, 1997). 

Event-related potentials (ERPs) are associated with specific thoughts or stimuli. The amplitudes of ERPs tend to range from low, less than a microvolt to several microvolts, compared to tens of microvolts for spontaneous EEG. 

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)

The fMRI is an indicator of neural activity that detects the amount of blood flow in each brain region. The images are taken in the form of cross-sectional “slices” that are obtained as the magnetic field is passed across the brain. 

These images in the form of slices are taken at a rapid rate and are imposed on images of the brain structure. These show how brain activities change over time. 

What is Cognitive Neuroscience?

If you’ve ever wondered why we tend to do the things that we do and what makes us angry, happy, or sad, and why it happens, then these answers are the main focus of Cognitive Neuroscience. 

Humans are complicated animals who possess an even more complicated thought process. Humans are influenced by chemicals as well as electrical impulses. However, this is a simple explanation, and the processes that influence us are more complicated. 

Cognitive neuroscience studies human cognition and thought processes because it relates to neuroscience and the biological functions of the brain as well as the nervous system. 

Here, the goal of cognitive neuroscientists is to help psychologists to better understand the processes that influence the physiology and biology of the brain. They help psychologists to understand the thought processes, emotions, behaviours, and memories of humans.

Cognitive neuroscience is considered to be a new field in both neuroscience and psychology. In the 1970s, Michael Gazzaniga, who was a neuroscientist and George Miller, who was a cognitive psychologist, pioneered the way toward cognitive neuroscience. Here is a brief history of neuroscience.

What are the areas of applied speciality for neuroscientists?

The various fields in which neuroscientists can do their majors, or specialise are as follows:

  • Developmental Neuroscience is a field that studies the development of the brain through different stages of life, and the changes that occur in the brain as a result of ageing.
  • Cognitive Neuroscience focuses on how the brain creates memories, language, and problem-solving abilities. It also focuses on understanding how the brain uses the same.
  • Molecular and Cellular neuroscience focuses on certain molecules and cells in the brain that determine the functioning of neurons.
  • Neurogenetics studies how the genes inherited by the individual affect the brain and the body by influencing changes in the neurons.
  • Clinical neuroscience deals with medical diagnoses and treatment of disorders of the brain and the nervous system. It also helps in the management f the same.
  • Neurophysiology focuses only on the nervous system and its functioning.
  • Sensory neuroscience studies how the nervous system processes and use sensory information received by the body.

Conclusion

This article answers the question “What skills do you need to be a neuropsychologist?” It discusses in detail what is neuropsychology, what neuropsychologists do, how neuropsychologists evaluate the brain, what is cognitive neuroscience, and the speciality areas under neuroscience. In the end, the article will address some frequently asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions: What Skills Do You Need to Be a Neuropsychologist?

How much intelligence is required as a neuropsychologist?

You require higher levels of intelligence to become a neuropsychologist. You need to be able to have qualities of self-learning and analytical thinking.

Which is better neurologist or neuropsychologist?

Neurologists only provide medication treatment for any physical problems caused by brain disorders. On the other hand, neuropsychologists treat cognitive, mental, as well as behavioural effects that brain disorders have on a person without the use of medications.

What conditions does a neuropsychologist treat?

The conditions that neuropsychologists treat or deal with include neuro-developmental disorders like autism, attentional deficit and hyperactivity disorder, they also treat concussion and traumatic brain injuries, epilepsy, and dementia disorders.

References

Gazzaniga, M. S. (2009). The cognitive neurosciences. MIT press.

Miller, G. A. (1989). George A. Miller. Stanford University Press.

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?