What Type of Work Does a Neuropsychologist Do?

This blog will address the question “What Type of Work Does a Neuropsychologist Do?” It will discuss in detail who neuropsychologists are, how they are different from neurologists and how neuropsychological examinations take place. In the end, the blog will answer some frequently asked questions.

What Type of Work 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.

What’s 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. 

Neuropsychologists look at how brain trauma can affect these aspects of your behaviour:

  • Cognitive – everything related to your thought processes, memory, and problem-solving
  • Social – how you relate to others and get along with them
  • Physical – if there are any deficits in how your body is functioning
  • Emotional – how is your mental health well-being and how do you feel otherwise

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.

These tests are usually done with a pencil and paper in a doctor’s office. They may also be done on a computer. Or, a neuropsychologist may just ask you a series of questions that you answer orally.

Neurological tests help neuropsychologists understand how capable you are of concentrating on things. The other thing that neuropsychological tests evaluate are:

  • Ability to think, understand, and learn
  • Your memory functions
  • Your motor coordination and motor functions
  • How well you are able to read, write, and see
  • Your problem-solving and decision-making abilities
  • Your verbal abilities

The different types of assessment that neuropsychologists use include:

Memory Tests

These tests usually require the client to repeat a list of words, or sentences. They can also be asked to repeat a string of numbers in the order they’re presented and in reverse order.

Cognitive Tests

These tests require clients to be assessed to explain why two items are alike, what a word means, and if the words are synonyms or antonyms. 

Verbal Communication Tests

These tests require you to name the items and point at them. They can also involve you to state a number of words that start with a particular letter.

Motor Tests

These include inserting pegs into a pegboard but being asked to do it only by using one hand at a time. It can also include being asked to draw certain things for the neuropsychologist to understand your fine motor skills.

Clients can also be given tests to assess their hearing and vision. These can also affect thinking and memory and are thus important to be assessed.

What Conditions do Neuropsychologists treat?

Neuropsychologists treat the following conditions:

  • Attentional Deficit and Hyperactive Disorder
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders like Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Disabilities
  • Down Syndrome, Huntington’s Disease, Tic disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Alzheimer’s Disease and other Dementia Disorders
  • Addiction Disorders
  • Neurological effects of depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Neurocognitive Disorders

How to Become a Neuropsychologist?

Becoming a neuropsychologist is not easy as you need to have years of training to become fully qualified. The steps can vary from state to state and country to country, but the requirements remain universal overall. They include:

You need to get a Bachelor’s degree usually in biology or psychology

You need an advanced degree. You can do your Master’s program in Neuropsychology and then go on to do your PhD

You will also need Post-doctoral field experience. This usually tends to be a two-year fellowship program

You need to earn a license by passing the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)

If you want to become board-certified, you may have to give additional oral and written tests.

If you wish to work in research, you will not need to pass the EPPP. However, if you are interested in fieldwork, then, you will still need to earn your license by passing the EPPP.

Difference Between Neuroscientists, Neurologists, Neuropsychologists, and Neurosurgeons

Neuroscientists are known as medical research scientists who tend to study the nervous system. The nervous system is composed of the brain, spinal cord and nerve cells in the body. 

Neuroscience is considered to be a complex field of science which includes studying molecular and developmental biology, physiology, and anatomy along with other subjects.

Neuroscientists use this knowledge to study the nervous system and understand the ways to better the functioning of the brain in terms of its effectiveness. 

Since neuroscience is a diverse and large field, neuroscientists choose to focus on specialising in certain areas of study. This enables them to narrow in on the research in areas that interest them. For instance, if they choose to become a neurologist, they can work with patients who have conditions of epilepsy, strokes, and multiple sclerosis (MS).

Neurologists are specialised physicians who look into the non-surgical management of several nervous system disorders for both the central and peripheral nervous systems. If you’re into surgeries, neurosurgery is the speciality that you should be looking into. 

Neurologists are responsible for managing all neurological problems ranging from headaches, and migraines, to more catastrophic diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Strokes, and Multiple Sclerosis (MS). 

It is widely believed neurologists are involved more in the diagnoses of conditions and don’t play a big role in the treatment for the same. There are various conditions that have not progressed much when it comes to modern medicines. However, there has been tremendous growth in the research of neurological conditions and therapies for the same are increasing in number. 

A neurosurgeon assesses, diagnoses and treats conditions that affect your body’s nervous system, which includes your brain, spinal cord and spinal column, and all of your nerves that extend from your spinal cord.

Neurologists work along with neurosurgeons to help carry out and interpret tests required for brain disorders. Neurologists help family members and provide support.

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.

Brain surgeons or neurosurgeons are trained medical doctors who diagnose and treat various conditions affecting the nervous system. This includes the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. They perform surgeries on the nervous system. However, they can also provide non-surgical treatments that include medications, steroids, as well as physical therapies. Usually, these methods are tried and tested before recommending surgery. 

Neurosurgeons also diagnose as well as treat conditions that may affect the supporting structures of the nervous system, such as:

  • The skull
  • Spinal vertebrate
  • Spinal disks
  • Blood vessels
  • Soft tissues
  • Protective membranes

Neurosurgeons are also consulted by other healthcare providers because they have extensive knowledge and training in the nervous system.

Other healthcare providers often consult neurosurgeons due to their extensive training in the nervous system.

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. 

Conclusion

This blog addresses the question “What Type of Work Does a Neuropsychologist Do?” It discusses in detail who neuropsychologists are, how they are different from neurologists and how neuropsychological examinations take place. In the end, the blog will answer some frequently asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions: What type of work does a neuropsychologist do?

How did Cognitive Neuroscience come into existence?

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 is Clinical Neuroscience?

Clinical neuroscience studies the disorders of the nervous system.

How do you pronounce neuroscience?

Neu·ro·sci·ence or ˌn(y)o͝orōˈsīəns/ is the correct pronunciation of neuroscience.

References

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

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

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