What is a Neuropsychological Test?

Introduction

Neuropsychological tests are specifically designed tasks that are used to measure a psychological function known to be linked to a particular brain structure or pathway.

Refer to Neuropsychological Assessment.

Tests are used for research into brain function and in a clinical setting for the diagnosis of deficits. They usually involve the systematic administration of clearly defined procedures in a formal environment. Neuropsychological tests are typically administered to a single person working with an examiner in a quiet office environment, free from distractions. As such, it can be argued that neuropsychological tests at times offer an estimate of a person’s peak level of cognitive performance. Neuropsychological tests are a core component of the process of conducting neuropsychological assessment, along with personal, interpersonal and contextual factors.

Most neuropsychological tests in current use are based on traditional psychometric theory. In this model, a person’s raw score on a test is compared to a large general population normative sample, that should ideally be drawn from a comparable population to the person being examined. Normative studies frequently provide data stratified by age, level of education, and/or ethnicity, where such factors have been shown by research to affect performance on a particular test. This allows for a person’s performance to be compared to a suitable control group, and thus provide a fair assessment of their current cognitive function.

According to Larry J. Seidman, the analysis of the wide range of neuropsychological tests can be broken down into four categories. First is an analysis of overall performance, or how well people do from test to test along with how they perform in comparison to the average score. Second is left-right comparisons: how well a person performs on specific tasks that deal with the left and right side of the body. Third is pathognomic signs, or specific test results that directly relate to a distinct disorder. Finally, the last category is differential patterns, which are typically used to diagnose specific diseases or types of damage.

Categories

Most forms of cognition actually involve multiple cognitive functions working in unison, however tests can be organised into broad categories based on the cognitive function which they predominantly assess. Some tests appear under multiple headings as different versions and aspects of tests can be used to assess different functions.

Intelligence

Intelligence testing in a research context is relatively more straightforward than in a clinical context. In research, intelligence is tested and results are generally as obtained, however in a clinical setting intelligence may be impaired so estimates are required for comparison with obtained results. Premorbid estimates can be determined through a number of methods, the most common include: comparison of test results to expected achievement levels based on prior education and occupation and the use of hold tests which are based on cognitive faculties which are generally good indicators of intelligence and thought to be more resistant to cognitive damage, e.g. language.

  • National Adult Reading Test (NART).
  • Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS).
  • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC).
  • Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI).
  • Wechsler Test of Adult Reading (WTAR).

Memory

Memory is a very broad function which includes several distinct abilities, all of which can be selectively impaired and require individual testing. There is disagreement as to the number of memory systems, depending on the psychological perspective taken. From a clinical perspective, a view of five distinct types of memory, is in most cases sufficient. Semantic memory and episodic memory (collectively called declarative memory or explicit memory); procedural memory and priming or perceptual learning (collectively called non-declarative memory or implicit memory) all four of which are long term memory systems; and working memory or short term memory. Semantic memory is memory for facts, episodic memory is autobiographical memory, procedural memory is memory for the performance of skills, priming is memory facilitated by prior exposure to a stimulus and working memory is a form of short term memory for information manipulation.

  • Benton Visual Retention Test.
  • California Verbal Learning Test.
  • Cambridge Prospective Memory Test (CAMPROMPT).
  • Gollin figure test.
  • Memory Assessment Scales (MAS).
  • Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test.
  • Rivermead Behavioural Memory Test.
  • Test of Memory and Learning (TOMAL).
  • Mental Attributes Profiling System.
  • Wechsler Memory Scale (WMS).

Language

Language functions include speech, reading and writing, all of which can be selectively impaired.

  • Boston Diagnostic Aphasia Examination.
  • Boston Naming Test.
  • Comprehensive Aphasia Test (CAT).
  • Multilingual Aphasia Examination.

Executive Function

Executive functions is an umbrella term for a various cognitive processes and sub-processes. The executive functions include: problem solving, planning, organisational skills, selective attention, inhibitory control and some aspects of short term memory.

  • Behavioural Assessment of Dysexecutive Syndrome (BADS).
  • CNS Vital Signs (Brief Core Battery).
  • Continuous performance task (CPT).
  • Controlled Oral Word Association Test (COWAT).
  • d2 Test of Attention.
  • Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System (D-KEFS).
  • Digit Vigilance Test.
  • Figural Fluency Test.
  • Halstead Category Test.
  • Hayling and Brixton tests.
  • Kaplan Baycrest Neurocognitive Assessment (KBNA).
  • Kaufman Short Neuropsychological Assessment.
  • Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT).
  • Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure.
  • Ruff Figural Fluency Test.
  • Stroop task.
  • Test of Variables of Attention (T.O.V.A.).
  • Tower of London Test.
  • Trail-Making Test (TMT) or Trails A & B.
  • Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST).
  • Symbol Digit Modalities Test.
  • Test of Everyday Attention (TEA).

Visuospatial

Neuropsychological tests of visuospatial function should cover the areas of visual perception, visual construction and visual integration. Though not their only functions, these tasks are to a large degree carried out by areas of the parietal lobe.

  • Clock Test.
  • Hooper Visual Organisation Task (VOT).
  • Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure.

Dementia Specific

Dementia testing is often done by way of testing the cognitive functions that are most often impaired by the disease e.g. memory, orientation, language and problem solving. Tests such as these are by no means conclusive of deficits, but may give a good indication as to the presence or severity of dementia.

  • The Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale (ADAS-Cog).
  • Clinical Dementia Rating.
  • Dementia Rating Scale.

Batteries Assessing Multiple Neuropsychological Functions

There are some test batteries which combine a range of tests to provide an overview of cognitive skills. These are usually good early tests to rule out problems in certain functions and provide an indication of functions which may need to be tested more specifically.

  • Barcelona Neuropsychological Test (BNT).
  • Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB).
  • Cognistat (The Neurobehavioral Cognitive Status Examination).
  • Cognitive Assessment Screening Instrument (CASI).
  • Cognitive Function Scanner (CFS).
  • Dean-Woodcock Neuropsychology Assessment System (DWNAS).
  • General Practitioner Assessment Of Cognition (GPCOG).
  • Hooper Visual Organisation Test.
  • Luria-Nebraska Neuropsychological battery.
  • MicroCog.
  • Mini mental state examination (MMSE).
  • NEPSY.
  • Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status.
  • Short Parallel Assessments of Neuropsychological Status (SPANS).
  • CDR Computerised Assessment System.

Automated Computerised Cognitive Tests

Traditional cognitive examinations are mostly paper and pen based. As such most of them are time consuming and require special training to be carried out. Today there is a rapidly growing number of automated computerised cognitive tests emerging, for example Brain on Track, Cogstate, CAMCI, CANTAB. Several of these new tests are shoving promising ability to discriminate between healthy individuals and different cognitive difficulties and/or to monitor cognitive impairment over time. Since these tests are easily administered to large groups of people this is opening up possibilities to, for example, regularly screen portions of the population at risk for cognitive decline and early on give adequate support and treatment.

Benefits of Neuropsychological Testing

The most beneficial factor of neuropsychological assessment is that it provides an accurate diagnosis of the disorder for the patient when it is unclear to the psychologist what exactly the patient has. This allows for accurate treatment later on in the process because treatment is driven by the exact symptoms of the disorder and how a specific patient may react to different treatments. The assessment allows the psychologist and patient to understand the severity of the deficit and to allow better decision-making by both parties. It is also helpful in understanding deteriorating diseases because the patient can be assessed multiple times to see how the disorder is progressing.

What is a Neuropsychological Assessment?

Introduction

Neuropsychological assessment was traditionally carried out to assess the extent of impairment to a particular skill and to attempt to determine the area of the brain which may have been damaged following brain injury or neurological illness.

With the advent of neuroimaging techniques, location of space-occupying lesions can now be more accurately determined through this method, so the focus has now moved on to the assessment of cognition and behaviour, including examining the effects of any brain injury or neuropathological process that a person may have experienced.

A core part of neuropsychological assessment is the administration of neuropsychological tests for the formal assessment of cognitive function, though neuropsychological testing is more than the administration and scoring of tests and screening tools. It is essential that neuropsychological assessment also include an evaluation of the person’s mental status. This is especially true in assessment of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Aspects of cognitive functioning that are assessed typically include orientation, new-learning/memory, intelligence, language, visuoperception, and executive function. However, clinical neuropsychological assessment is more than this and also focuses on a person’s psychological, personal, interpersonal and wider contextual circumstances.

Assessment may be carried out for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Clinical evaluation, to understand the pattern of cognitive strengths as well as any difficulties a person may have, and to aid decision making for use in a medical or rehabilitation environment.
  • Scientific investigation, to examine a hypothesis about the structure and function of cognition to be tested, or to provide information that allows experimental testing to be seen in context of a wider cognitive profile.
  • Medico-legal assessment, to be used in a court of law as evidence in a legal claim or criminal investigation.

Miller outlined three broad goals of neuropsychological assessment. Firstly, diagnosis, to determine the nature of the underlying problem. Secondly, to understand the nature of any brain injury or resulting cognitive problem (see neurocognitive deficit) and its impact on the individual, as a means of devising a rehabilitation programme or offering advice as to an individual’s ability to carry out certain tasks (for example, fitness to drive, or returning to work). And lastly, assessments may be undertaken to measure change in functioning over time, such as to determine the consequences of a surgical procedure or the impact of a rehabilitation programme over time.

Diagnosis of a Neuropsychological Disorder

Certain types of damage to the brain will cause behavioural and cognitive difficulties. Psychologists can start screening for these problems by using either one of the following techniques or all of these combined:

History TakingThis includes gathering medical history of the patient and their family, presence or absence of developmental milestones, psychosocial history, and character, severity, and progress of any history of complaints. The psychologist can then gauge how to treat the patient and determine if there are any historical determinants for his or her behaviour.
InterviewingPsychologists use structured interviews in order to determine what kind of neurological problem the patient might be experiencing. There are a number of specific interviews, including the Short Portable Mental Status Questionnaire, Neuropsychological Impairment Scale, Patient’s Assessment of Own Functioning, and Structured Interview for the Diagnosis of Dementia.
Test-TakingScores on standardised tests of adequate predictive validity predictor well current and/or future problems. Standardised tests allow psychologists to compare a person’s results with other people’s because it has the same components and is given in the same way. It is therefore representative of the person’s behaviour and cognition. The results of a standardised test are only part of the jigsaw. Further, multidisciplinary investigations (e.g. neuroimaging, neurological) are typically needed to officially diagnose a brain-injured patient.
Intelligence TestingTesting one’s intelligence can also give a clue to whether there is a problem in the brain-behaviour connection. The Wechsler Scales are the tests most often used to determine level of intelligence. The variety of scales available, the nature of the tasks, as well as a wide gap in verbal and performance scores can give clues to whether there is a learning disability or damage to a certain area of the brain.
Testing Other AreasOther areas are also tested when a patient goes through neuropsychological assessment. These can include sensory perception, motor functions, attention, memory, auditory and visual processing, language, problem solving, planning, organisation, speed of processing, and many others. Neuropsychological assessment can test many areas of cognitive and executive functioning to determine whether a patient’s difficulty in function and behaviour has a neuropsychological basis.

Information Gathered from Assessment

Tsatsanis and Volkmar believe that assessment can provide unique information about the type of disorder a patient has which allows the psychologist to come up with a treatment plan. Neuropsychological assessment can clarify the nature of the disorder and determine the cognitive functioning associated with a disorder. Assessment can also allow the psychologist to understand the developmental progress of the disorder in order to predict future problems and come up with a successful treatment package. Different assessments can also determine if a patient will be at risk for a particular disorder. It is important to remember, however, that assessing a patient at one time is not enough to go ahead and continue treatment because of the changes in behaviour that can occur frequently. A patient must be retested multiple times in order to make sure that the current treatment is still the right treatment. For neuropsychological assessments, researchers discover the different areas of the brain that is damaged based on the cognitive and behavioural aspects of the patient.

Benefits of Assessment

The most beneficial factor of neuropsychological assessment is that is provides an accurate diagnosis of the disorder for the patient when it is unclear to the psychologist what exactly they have. This allows for accurate treatment later on in the process because treatment is driven by the exact symptoms of the disorder and how a specific patient may react to different treatments. The assessment allows the psychologist and patient to understand the severity of the deficit and to allow better decision-making by both parties. It is also helpful in understanding deteriorating diseases because the patient can be assessed multiple times to see how the disorder is progressing.

One area where neuropsychological assessments can be beneficial is in forensic cases where the defendant’s competency is being questioned due to possible brain injury or damage. A neuropsychological assessment may show brain damage when neuroimaging has failed. It can also determine whether the individual is faking a disorder (malingering) in order to attain a lesser sentence.

Most neuropsychological testing can be completed in 6 to 12 hours or less. This time, however, does not include the role of the psychologist interpreting the data, scoring the test, making formulations, and writing a formal report.

Qualifications for Conducting Assessments

Neuropsychological assessments are usually conducted by doctoral-level (Ph.D., Psy.D.) psychologists trained in neuropsychology, known as clinical neuropsychologists. The definition and scope of a clinical neuropsychologist is outlined in the widely accepted Houston Conference Guidelines. They will usually have postdoctoral training in neuropsychology, neuroanatomy, and brain function. Most will be licensed and practicing psychologists in their particular field. Recent developments in the field allow for highly trained individuals such as psychometrists to administer selected instruments, though determinations regarding testing results remain the responsibility of the doctor.

On This Day … 20 August

People (Births)

  • 1913 – Roger Wolcott Sperry, American neuropsychologist and neurobiologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1994).

People (Deaths)

  • 1985 – Donald O. Hebb, Canadian psychologist and academic (b. 1904).

Roger Wolcott Sperry

Roger Wolcott Sperry (20 August 1913 to 17 April 1994) was an American neuropsychologist, neurobiologist and Nobel laureate who, together with David Hunter Hubel and Torsten Nils Wiesel, won the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his work with split-brain research. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Sperry as the 44th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.

Education

Sperry went to Hall High School in West Hartford, Connecticut, where he was a star athlete in several sports, and did well enough academically to win a scholarship to Oberlin College. At Oberlin, he was captain of the basketball team, and he also took part in varsity baseball, football, and track. He also worked at a café on campus to help support himself. Sperry was an English major, but he took an Intro to Psychology class taught by a Professor named R.H. Stetson who had worked with William James, the father of American Psychology. This class sparked Sperry’s interest in the brain and how it can change. Stetson was disabled and had trouble getting around so Sperry would help him out by driving him to and from wherever he needed to go. This included taking Stetson to lunch with his colleagues. Sperry would just sit at the end of the table and listen to Stetson and his colleagues discuss their research and other psychological interests. This increased Sperry’s interest in Psychology even more and after he received his undergraduate degree in English from Oberlin he decided to stay and get his master’s degree in Psychology. He received his bachelor’s degree in English in 1935 and a master’s degree in psychology in 1937. He received his Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Chicago in 1941, supervised by Paul A. Weiss. Sperry then did postdoctoral research with Karl Lashley at Harvard University though most of his time was spent with Lashley at the Yerkes Primate Research Centre in Orange Park, Florida.

Career

In 1942, Sperry began work at the Yerkes Laboratories of Primate Biology, then a part of Harvard University. There he focused on experiments involving the rearranging of motor and sensory nerves. He left in 1946 to become an assistant professor, and later associate professor, at the University of Chicago. In 1949, during a routine chest x-ray, there was evidence of tuberculosis. He was sent to Saranac Lake in the Adironack Mountains in New York for treatment. It was during this time when he began writing his concepts of the mind and brain, and was first published in the American Scientist in 1952. In 1952, he became the Section Chief of Neurological Diseases and Blindness at the National Institutes of Health and finished out the year at the Marine Biology Laboratory in Coral Gables, Florida. Sperry went back to The University of Chicago in 1952 and became an Associate Professor of Psychology. He was not offered tenure at Chicago and planned to move to Bethesda, Maryland but was held up by a delay in construction at the National Institutes of Health. During this time Sperry’s friend Victor Hepburn invited him to lecture about his research at a symposium. There were professors from the California Institute of Technology in the audience of the symposium who, after listening to Sperry’s lecture, were so impressed with him they offered him a job as the Hixson Professor of Psychobiology. In 1954, he accepted the position as a professor at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech as Hixson Professor of Psychobiology) where he performed his most famous experiments with Joseph Bogen, MD and many students including Michael Gazzaniga.

Under the supervision of Paul Weiss while earning his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, Sperry became interested in neuronal specificity and brain circuitry and began questioning the existing concepts about these two topics. He asked the simple question first asked in his Introduction to Psychology class at Oberlin: Nature or nurture? He began a series of experiments in an attempt to answer this question. Sperry crosswired the motor nerves of rats’ legs so the left nerve controlled the right leg and vice versa. He would then place the rats in a cage that had an electric grid on the bottom separated into four sections. Each leg of the rat was placed into one of the four sections of the electric grid. A shock was administered to a specific section of the grid, for example the grid where the rat’s left back leg was located would receive a shock. Every time the left paw was shocked the rat would lift his right paw and vice versa. Sperry wanted to know how long it would take the rat to realize he was lifting the wrong paw. After repeated tests Sperry found that the rats never learned to lift up the correct paw, leading him to the conclusion that some things are just hardwired and cannot be relearned. In Sperry’s words, “no adaptive functioning of the nervous system took place.” During Sperry’s postdoctoral years with Karl Lashley at Harvard and at the Yerkes Laboratories of Primate Biology in Orange Park, Florida, he continued his work on neuronal specificity that he had begun as a doctoral student and initiated a new series of studies involving salamanders. The optic nerves were sectioned and the eyes rotated 180 degrees. The question was whether vision would be normal after regeneration or would the animal forever view the world as “upside down” and right-left reversed. Should the latter prove to be the case, it would mean that the nerves were somehow “guided” back to their original sites of termination. Restoration of normal vision (i.e. “seeing” the world in a “right-side-up” orientation) would mean that the regenerating nerves had terminated in new sites, quite different from the original ones. The animals reacted as though the world was upside down and reversed from right to left. Furthermore, no amount of training could change the response. These studies, which provided strong evidence for nerve guidance by “intricate chemical codes under genetic control” (1963) culminated in Sperry’s chemoaffinity hypothesis (1951).

Sperry later served on the Board of Trustees and as Professor of Psychobiology Emeritus at California Institute of Technology. The Sperry Neuroscience Building at Oberlin College was named in his honour in 1990.

Donald O. Hebb

Donald Olding Hebb FRS (22 July 1904 to 20 August 1985) was a Canadian psychologist who was influential in the area of neuropsychology, where he sought to understand how the function of neurons contributed to psychological processes such as learning. He is best known for his theory of Hebbian learning, which he introduced in his classic 1949 work The Organisation of Behaviour. He has been described as the father of neuropsychology and neural networks. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Hebb as the 19th most cited psychologist of the 20th century. His views on learning described behaviour and thought in terms of brain function, explaining cognitive processes in terms of connections between neuron assemblies.

What is the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery?

Introduction

The Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB), originally developed at the University of Cambridge in the 1980s but now provided in a commercial capacity by Cambridge Cognition, is a computer-based cognitive assessment system consisting of a battery of neuropsychological tests, administered to subjects using a touch screen computer.

Outline

The CANTAB tests were co-invented by Professor Trevor Robbins and Professor Barbara Sahakian.

The 25 tests in CANTAB examine various areas of cognitive function, including:

  • General memory and learning.
  • Working memory and executive function.
  • Visual memory.
  • Attention and reaction time (RT).
  • Semantic/verbal memory.
  • Decision making and response control.

The CANTAB combines the accuracy and rigour of computerised psychological testing whilst retaining the wide range of ability measures demanded of a neuropsychological battery. It is suitable for young and old subjects, and aims to be culture and language independent through the use of non-verbal stimuli in the majority of the tests.

The CANTAB PAL touchscreen test, which assesses visual memory and new learning, received the highest rating of world-leading 4* grade from the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014. CANTAB and CANTAB PAL were highlighted in the Medical Schools Council ‘Health of the Nation’ 2015 publication.

On This Day … 15 July

People (Births)

  • 1904 – Rudolf Arnheim, German-American psychologist and author (d. 2007).
  • 1918 – Brenda Milner, English-Canadian neuropsychologist and academic.

People (Deaths)

  • 1940 – Eugen Bleuler, Swiss psychiatrist and physician (b. 1857).

Rudolf Arnheim

Rudolf Arnheim (15 July 1904 to 09 June 2007) was a German-born author, art and film theorist, and perceptual psychologist. He learned Gestalt psychology from studying under Max Wertheimer and Wolfgang Köhler at the University of Berlin and applied it to art. His magnum opus was his book Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye (1954). Other major books by Arnheim have included Visual Thinking (1969), and The Power of the Center: A Study of Composition in the Visual Arts (1982). Art and Visual Perception was revised, enlarged and published as a new version in 1974, and it has been translated into fourteen languages. He lived in Germany, Italy, England, and America where he taught at Sarah Lawrence College, Harvard University, and the University of Michigan. He has greatly influenced art history and psychology in America.

In Art and Visual Perception, Arnheim tries to use science to better understand art. In his later book Visual Thinking (1969), Arnheim critiques the assumption that language goes before perception. For Arnheim, the only access to reality we have is through our senses. Arnheim also argues that perception is strongly identified with thinking, and that artistic expression is another way of reasoning. In The Power of the Centre, Arnheim addresses the interaction of art and architecture on concentric and grid spatial patterns. He argues that form and content are indivisible, and that the patterns created by artists reveal the nature of human experience.

Brenda Milner

Brenda Milner CC GOQ FRS FRSC (née Langford; 15 July 1918) is a British-Canadian neuropsychologist who has contributed extensively to the research literature on various topics in the field of clinical neuropsychology. As of 2010, Milner is a professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University and a professor of Psychology at the Montreal Neurological Institute. As of 2005, she holds more than 20 degrees and continues to work in her nineties. Her current work covers many aspects of neuropsychology including her lifelong interest in the involvement of the temporal lobes in episodic memory. She is sometimes referred to as “the founder of neuropsychology” and has proven to be an essential key in its development. She received the Balzan Prize for Cognitive Neuroscience, in 2009, and the Kavli Prize in Neuroscience, together with John O’Keefe, and Marcus E. Raichle, in 2014. She turned 100 in July 2018 and at the time was still overseeing the work of researchers.

Eugen Bleuler

Paul Eugen Bleuler (30 April 1857 to 15 July 1939) was a Swiss psychiatrist and eugenicist most notable for his contributions to the understanding of mental illness. He coined many psychiatric terms, such as “schizophrenia”, “schizoid”, “autism”, depth psychology and what Sigmund Freud called “Bleuler’s happily chosen term ambivalence”.

Bleuler studied medicine in Zürich. He trained for his psychiatric residency at Waldau Hospital under Gottileb Burckhardt, a Swiss psychiatrist, from 1881-1884. He left his job in 1884 and spent one year on medical study trips with Jean-Martin Charcot, a French neurologist in Paris, Bernhard von Gudden, a German psychiatrist in Munich, and to London. After these trips, he returned to Zürich to briefly work as assistant to Auguste Forel while completing his psychiatric residency at the Burghölzli, a university hospital.

Bleuler became the director of a psychiatric clinic in Rheinau, a hospital located in an old monastery on an island in the Rhine. At the time, the clinic was known for being functionally backward and largely ineffective. Because of this, Bleuler set about improving conditions for the patients residing there.

In the year 1898, Bleuler returned to the Burghölzli and became a psychiatry professor at Burghölzli, the same university hospital he completed his residency. He was also appointed director of the mental asylum in Rheinau. He served as the director from the years 1898 to 1927. While working at this asylum, Bleuler cared for long-term psychiatric patients. He also implemented both psychoanalytic treatment and research, and was influenced by Sigmund Freud.

During his time as the director of psychiatry at Burghölzli, Bleuler made great contributions to the field of psychiatry and psychology that made him known today. Because of these findings, Bleuler has been described as one of the most influential Swiss psychiatrists.

What is Neurophenomenology?

Introduction

Neurophenomenology refers to a scientific research program aimed to address the hard problem of consciousness in a pragmatic way.

It combines neuroscience with phenomenology in order to study experience, mind, and consciousness with an emphasis on the embodied condition of the human mind. The field is very much linked to fields such as neuropsychology, neuroanthropology and behavioural neuroscience (also known as biopsychology) and the study of phenomenology in psychology.

Overview

The label was coined by C. Laughlin, J. McManus and E. d’Aquili in 1990. However, the term was appropriated and given a distinctive understanding by the cognitive neuroscientist Francisco Varela in the mid-1990s, whose work has inspired many philosophers and neuroscientists to continue with this new direction of research.

Phenomenology is a philosophical method of inquiry of everyday experience. The focus in phenomenology is on the examination of different phenomena (from Greek, phainomenon, “that which shows itself”) as they appear to consciousness, i.e. in a first-person perspective. Thus, phenomenology is a discipline particularly useful to understand how is it that appearances present themselves to us, and how is it that we attribute meaning to them.

Neuroscience is the scientific study of the brain, and deals with the third-person aspects of consciousness. Some scientists studying consciousness believe that the exclusive utilisation of either first- or third-person methods will not provide answers to the difficult questions of consciousness.

Historically, Edmund Husserl is regarded as the philosopher whose work made phenomenology a coherent philosophical discipline with a concrete methodology in the study of consciousness, namely the epoche. Husserl, who was a former student of Franz Brentano, thought that in the study of mind it was extremely important to acknowledge that consciousness is characterised by intentionality, a concept often explained as “aboutness”; consciousness is always consciousness of something. A particular emphasis on the phenomenology of embodiment was developed by philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty in the mid-20th century.

Naturally, phenomenology and neuroscience find a convergence of common interests. However, primarily because of ontological disagreements between phenomenology and philosophy of mind, the dialogue between these two disciplines is still a very controversial subject. Husserl himself was very critical towards any attempt to “naturalizing” philosophy, and his phenomenology was founded upon a criticism of empiricism, “psychologism”, and “anthropologism” as contradictory standpoints in philosophy and logic. The influential critique of the ontological assumptions of computationalist and representationalist cognitive science, as well as artificial intelligence, made by philosopher Hubert Dreyfus has marked new directions for integration of neurosciences with an embodied ontology. The work of Dreyfus has influenced cognitive scientists and neuroscientists to study phenomenology and embodied cognitive science and/or enactivism. One such case is neuroscientist Walter Freeman, whose neurodynamical analysis has a marked Merleau-Pontyian approach.

What is Behavioural Neurology?

Introduction

Behavioural neurology is a subspecialty of neurology that studies the impact of neurological damage and disease upon behaviour, memory, and cognition, and the treatment thereof.

Refer to Behavioural Neuroscience.

Background

Two fields associated with behavioural neurology are neuropsychiatry and neuropsychology. In the United States, ‘Behavioural Neurology & Neuropsychiatry’ has been recognised as a single subspecialty by the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties (UCNS) since 2004.

Symptoms

Syndromes and diseases commonly studied by behavioural neurology include:

  • Agraphia.
  • Agnosias.
  • Agraphesthesia.
  • Alexia (acquired dyslexia).
  • Amnesias.
  • Anosognosia.
  • Aphasias.
  • Apraxias.
  • Aprosodias.
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Autism.
  • Dementia.
  • Dyslexia.
  • Epilepsy.
  • Hemispatial Neglect.
  • Psychosis.
  • Stroke.
  • Traumatic brain injury.

Brief History

While descriptions of behavioural syndromes go back to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, it was during the 19th century that behavioural neurology began to arise, first with the primitive localisation theories of Franz Gall, followed in the mid 19th century by the first localisations in aphasias by Paul Broca and then Carl Wernicke. Localisationist neurology and clinical descriptions reached a peak in the late 19th and early 20th century, with work extending into the clinical descriptions of dementias by Alois Alzheimer and Arnold Pick. The work of Karl Lashley in rats for a time in the early to mid 20th century put a damper on localisation theory and lesion models of behavioural function.

In the United States, the work of Norman Geschwind led to a renaissance of behavioural neurology. He is famous for his work on disconnection syndromes, aphasia, and behavioural syndromes of limbic epilepsy, also called Geschwind syndrome. Having trained generations of behavioural neurologists (e.g. Antonio Damasio), Geschwind is considered the father of behavioural neurology.

The advent of in vivo neuroimaging starting in the 1980s led to a further strengthening of interest in the cognitive neurosciences and provided a tool that allowed for lesion, structural, and functional correlations with behavioural dysfunction in living people.

What is Clinical Neuropsychology?

Introduction

Clinical neuropsychology is a sub-field of psychology concerned with the applied science of brain-behaviour relationships.

Clinical neuropsychologists use this knowledge in the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and or rehabilitation of patients across the lifespan with neurological, medical, neurodevelopmental and psychiatric conditions, as well as other cognitive and learning disorders. The branch of neuropsychology associated with children and young people is paediatric neuropsychology.

Clinical neuropsychology is a specialised form of clinical psychology. Strict rules are in place to maintain evidence as a focal point of treatment and research within clinical neuropsychology. The assessment and rehabilitation of neuropsychopathologies is the focus for a clinical neuropsychologist. A clinical neuropsychologist must be able to determine whether a symptom(s) may be caused by an injury to the head through interviewing a patient in order to determine what actions should be taken to best help the patient. Another duty of a clinical neuropsychologist is to find cerebral abnormalities and possible correlations. Evidence based practice in both research and treatment is paramount to appropriate clinical neuropsychological practice.

Assessment is primarily by way of neuropsychological tests, but also includes patient history, qualitative observation and may draw on findings from neuroimaging and other diagnostic medical procedures. Clinical neuropsychology requires an in-depth knowledge of: neuroanatomy, neurobiology, psychopharmacology and neuropathology.

Brief History

During the late 1800s, brain-behaviour relationships were interpreted by European physicians who observed and identified behavioural syndromes that were related with focal brain dysfunction.

Clinical neuropsychology is a fairly new practice in comparison to other specialty fields in psychology with history going back to the 1960s. The specialty focus of clinical neuropsychology evolved slowly into a more defined whole as interest grew. Threads from neurology, clinical psychology, psychiatry, cognitive psychology, and psychometrics all have been woven together to create the intricate tapestry of clinical neuropsychology, a practice which is very much so still evolving. The history of clinical neuropsychology is long and complicated due to its ties to so many older practices. Researchers like Thomas Willis (1621-1675) who has been credited with creating neurology, John Hughlings Jackson (1835-1911) who theorised that cognitive processes occurred in specific parts of the brain, Paul Broca (1824-1880) and Karl Wernicke (1848-1905) who studied the human brain in relation to psychopathology, Jean Martin Charcot (1825-1893) who apprenticed Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) who created the psychoanalytic theory all contributed to clinical medicine which later contributed to clinical neuropsychology. The field of psychometrics contributed to clinical neuropsychology through individuals such as Francis Galton (1822-1911) who collected quantitative data on physical and sensory characteristics, Karl Pearson (1857-1936) who established the statistics which psychology now relies on, Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) who created the first psychology lab, his student Charles Spearman (1863-1945) who furthered statistics through discoveries like factor analysis, Alfred Binet (1857-1911) and his apprentice Theodore Simon (1872-1961) who together made the Binet-Simon scale of intellectual development, and Jean Piaget (1896-1980) who studied child development. Studies in intelligence testing made by Lewis Terman (1877-1956) who updated the Binet-Simon scale to the Stanford-Binet intelligence scale, Henry Goddard (1866-1957) who developed different classification scales, and Robert Yerkes (1876-1956) who was in charge of the Army Alpha and Beta tests also all contributed to where clinical neuropsychology is today.

Clinical neuropsychology focuses on the brain and goes back to the beginning of the 20th century. As a clinician a clinical neuropsychologist offers their services by addressing three steps: assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. The term clinical neuropsychologist was first made by Sir William Osler on 16 April 1913. While clinical neuropsychology was not a focus until the 20th century evidence of brain and behaviour treatment and studies are seen as far back as the neolithic area when trephination, a crude surgery in which a piece of the skull is removed, has been observed in skulls. As a profession, clinical neuropsychology is a subspecialty beneath clinical psychology. During World War I (1914-1918) the early term shell shock was first observed in soldiers who survived the war. This was the beginning of efforts to understand traumatic events and how they affected people. During the Great Depression (1929-1941) further stressors caused shell shock like symptoms to emerge. In World War II (1939-1945) the term shell shock was changed to battle fatigue and clinical neuropsychology became even more involved with attempting to solve the puzzle of peoples’ continued signs of trauma and distress. The Veterans Administration or VA was created in 1930 which increased the call for clinical neuropsychologists and by extension the need for training. The Korean War (1950-1953) and Vietnam War (1960-1973) further solidified the need for treatment by trained clinical neuropsychologists. In 1985 the term post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD was coined and the understanding that traumatic events of all kinds could cause PTSD started to evolve.

The relationship between human behaviour and the brain is the focus of clinical neuropsychology as defined by Meir in 1974. There are two subdivisions of clinical neuropsychology which draw much focus; organic and environmental natures. Ralph M. Reitan, Arthur L. Benton, and A.R. Luria are all past neuropsychologists whom believed and studied the organic nature of clinical neuropsychology. Alexander Luria is the Russian neuropsychologist responsible for the origination of clinical psychoneurological assessment after WWII. Building upon his original contribution connecting the voluntary and involuntary functions influencing behaviour, Luria further conjoins the methodical structures and associations of neurological processes in the brain. Luria developed the ‘combined motor method’ to measure thought processes based on the reaction times when three simultaneous tasks are appointed that require a verbal response. On the other side, environmental nature of clinical neuropsychology did not appear until more recently and is characterised by treatments such as behaviour therapy. The relationship between physical brain abnormalities and the presentation of psychopathology is not completely understood, but this is one of the questions which clinical neuropsychologists hope to answer in time. In 1861 the debate over human potentiality versus localisation began. The two sides argued over how human behaviour presented in the brain. Paul Broca postulated that cognitive problems could be caused by physical damage to specific parts of the brain based on a case study of his in which he found a lesion on the brain of a deceased patient who had presented the symptom of being unable to speak, that portion of the brain is now known as Broca’s Area. In 1874 Carl Wernicke also made a similar observation in a case study involving a patient with a brain lesion whom was unable to comprehend speech, the part of the brain with the lesion is now deemed Wernicke’s Area. Both Broca and Wernicke believed and studied the theory of localisation. On the other hand, equal potentiality theorists believed that brain function was not based on a single piece of the brain but rather on the brain as a whole. Marie J.P Flourens conducted animal studies in which he found that the amount of brain tissue damaged directly affected the amount that behaviour ability was altered or damaged. Kurt Goldstein observed the same idea as Flourens except in veterans who had fought in World War I. In the end, despite all of the disagreement, neither theory completely explains the human brains complexity. Thomas Hughlings Jackson created a theory which was thought to be a possible solution. Jackson believed that both potentiality and localisation were in part correct and that behaviour was made by multiple parts of the brain working collectively to cause behaviours, and Luria (1966-1973) furthered Jackson’s theory.

The Role

When considering where a clinical neuropsychologist works, hospitals are a common place for practitioners to end up. There are three main variations in which a clinical neuropsychologist may work at a hospital; as an employee, consultant, or independent practitioner. As a clinical neuropsychologist working as an employee of a hospital the individual may receive a salary, benefits, and sign a contract for employment. In the case of an employee of a hospital the hospital is in charge of legal and financial responsibilities. The second option of working as a consultant implies that the clinical neuropsychologist is part of a private practice or is a member of a physicians group. In this scenario, the clinical neuropsychologist may work in the hospital like the employee of the hospital but all financial and legal responsibilities go through the group which the clinical neuropsychologist is a part of. The third option is an independent practitioner whom works alone and may even have their office outside of the hospital or rent a room in the hospital. In the third case, the clinical neuropsychologist is completely on their own and in charge of their own financial and legal responsibilities.

Assessment

Assessments are used in clinical neuropsychology to find brain psychopathologies of the cognitive, behavioural, and emotional variety. Physical evidence is not always readily visible so clinical neuropsychologists must rely on assessments to tell them the extent of the damage. The cognitive strengths and weaknesses of the patient are assessed to help narrow down the possible causes of the brain pathology. A clinical neuropsychologist is expected to help educate the patient on what is happening to them so that the patient can understand how to work with their own cognitive deficits and strengths. An assessment should accomplish many goals such as; gage consequences of impairments to quality of life, compile symptoms and the change in symptoms over time, and assess cognitive strengths and weaknesses. Accumulation of the knowledge earned from the assessment is then dedicated to developing a treatment plan based on the patient’s individual needs. An assessment can also help the clinical neuropsychologist gauge the impact of medications and neurosurgery on a patient. Behavioural neurology and neuropsychology tools can be standardised or psychometric tests and observational data collected on the patient to help build an understanding of the patient and what is happening with them. There are essential prerequisites which must be present in a patient in order for the assessment to be effective; concentration, comprehension, and motivation and effort.

Lezak lists six primary reasons neuropsychological assessments are carried out: diagnosis, patient care and its planning, treatment planning, treatment evaluation, research and forensic neuropsychology. To conduct a comprehensive assessment will typically take several hours and may need to be conducted over more than a single visit. Even the use of a screening battery covering several cognitive domains may take 1.5-2 hours. At the commencement of the assessment it is important to establish a good rapport with the patient and ensure they understand the nature and aims of the assessment.

Neuropsychological assessment can be carried out from two basic perspectives, depending on the purpose of assessment. These methods are normative or individual. Normative assessment, involves the comparison of the patient’s performance against a representative population. This method may be appropriate in investigation of an adult onset brain insult such as traumatic brain injury or stroke. Individual assessment may involve serial assessment, to establish whether declines beyond those which are expected to occur with normal aging, as with dementia or another neurodegenerative condition.

Assessment can be further subdivided into sub-sections:

History Taking

Neuropsychological assessments usually commence with a clinical interview as a means of collecting a history, which is relevant to the interpretation of any later neuropsychological tests. In addition, this interview provides qualitative information about the patient’s ability to act in a socially apt manner, organise and communicate information effectively and provide an indication as to the patient’s mood, insight and motivation. It is only within the context of a patient’s history that an accurate interpretation of their test data and thus a diagnosis can be made. The clinical interview should take place in a quiet area free from distractions. Important elements of a history include demographic information, description of presenting problem, medical history (including any childhood or developmental problems, psychiatric and psychological history), educational and occupational history (and if any legal history and military history).

Selection of Neuropsychological Tests

It is not uncommon for patients to be anxious about being tested; explaining that tests are designed so that they will challenge everyone and that no one is expected to answer all questions correctly may be helpful. An important consideration of any neuropsychological assessment is a basic coverage of all major cognitive functions. The most efficient way to achieve this is the administration of a battery of tests covering: attention, visual perception and reasoning, learning and memory, verbal function, construction, concept formation, executive function, motor abilities and emotional status. Beyond this basic battery, choices of neuropsychological tests to be administered are mainly made on the basis of which cognitive functions need to be evaluated in order to fulfil the assessment objectives.

Report Writing

Following a neuropsychological assessment it is important to complete a comprehensive report based on the assessment conducted. The report is for other clinicians, as well as the patient and their family so it is important to avoid jargon or the use of language which has different clinical and lay meanings (e.g. intellectually disabled as the correct clinical term for an IQ below 70, but offensive in lay language). The report should cover background to the referral, relevant history, reasons for assessment, neuropsychologists observations of patient’s behaviour, test administered and results for cognitive domains tested, any additional findings (e.g. questionnaires for mood) and finish the report with a summary and recommendations. In the summary it is important to comment on what the profile of results indicates regarding the referral question. The recommendations section contains practical information to assist the patient and family, or improve the management of the patient’s condition.

Educational Requirements of Different Countries

The educational requirements for becoming a clinical neuropsychologist differ between countries. In some countries it may be necessary to complete a clinical psychology degree, before specialising with further studies in clinical neuropsychology. While some countries offer clinical neuropsychology courses to students who have completed 4 years of psychology studies. All clinical neuropsychologists require a postgraduate qualification, whether it be a Masters or Doctorate (Ph.D, Psy.D. or D.Psych).

Australia

To become a clinical neuropsychologist in Australia requires the completion of a 3-year Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) approved undergraduate degree in psychology, a 1-year psychology honours, followed by a 2-year Masters or 3-year Doctorate of Psychology (D.Psych) in clinical neuropsychology. These courses involve coursework (lectures, tutorials, practicals etc.), supervised practice placements and the completion of a research thesis. Masters and D.Psych courses involve the same amount of coursework units, but differ in the amount of supervised placements undertaken and length of research thesis. Masters courses require a minimum of 1,000 hours (125 days) and D.Psych courses require a minimum of 1,500 hours (200 days), it is mandatory that these placements expose students to acute neurology/neurosurgery, rehabilitation, psychiatric, geriatric and paediatric populations.

Canada

To become a clinical neuropsychologist in Canada requires the completion of a 4-year honours degree in psychology and a 4-year doctoral degree in clinical neuropsychology. Often a 2-year master’s degree is required before commencing the doctoral degree. The doctoral degree involves coursework and practical experience (practicum and internship). Practicum is between 600 and 1,000 hours of practical application of skills acquired in the programme. At least 300 hours must be supervised, face-to-face client contact. The practicum is intended to prepare students for the internship/residency. Internships/residencies are a year long experience in which the student functions as a neuropsychologist, under supervision. Currently, there are 3 CPA-accredited Clinical Neuropsychology internships/residencies in Canada, although other unaccredited ones exist. Prior to commencing the internship students must have completed all doctoral coursework, received approval for their thesis proposal (if not completed the thesis) and the 600 hours of practicum.

United Kingdom

To become a clinical neuropsychologist in the UK, requires prior qualification as a clinical or educational psychologist as recognised by the Health Professions Council, followed by further postgraduate study in clinical neuropsychology. In its entirety, education to become a clinical neuropsychologist in the UK consists of the completion of a 3-year British Psychological Society accredited undergraduate degree in psychology, 3-year Doctorate in clinical (usually D.Clin.Psy.) or educational psychology (D.Ed.Psy.), followed by a 1-year Masters (MSc) or 9-month Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) in Clinical Neuropsychology. The British Psychological Division of Counselling Psychology are also currently offering training to its members in order to ensure that they can apply to be registered Neuropsychologists also.

United States

In order to become a clinical neuropsychologist in the US and be compliant with Houston Conference Guidelines, the completion of a 4-year undergraduate degree in psychology and a 4 to 5-year doctoral degree (Psy.D. or Ph.D.) must be completed. After the completion of the doctoral coursework, training and dissertation, students must complete a 1-year internship, followed by an additional 2 years of supervised residency. The doctoral degree, internship and residency must all be undertaken at American Psychological Association approved institutions. After the completion of all training, students must apply to become licensed in their state to practice psychology. The American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology, The American Board of Professional Neuropsychology, and The American Board of Paediatric Neuropsychology all award board certification to neuropsychologists that demonstrate competency in specific areas of neuropsychology, by reviewing the neuropsychologist’s training, experience, submitted case samples, and successfully completing both written and oral examinations. Although these requirements are standard according to Houston Conference Guidelines, even these guidelines have stated that the completion of all of these requirements is still aspirational, and other ways of achieving clinical neuropsychologist status are possible.

What is Neuropsychology?

Introduction

Neuropsychology is a branch of psychology that is concerned with how a person’s cognition and behaviour are related to the brain and the rest of the nervous system. Professionals in this branch of psychology often focus on how injuries or illnesses of the brain affect cognitive and behavioural functions.

It is both an experimental and clinical field of psychology, thus aiming to understand how behaviour and cognition are influenced by brain function and concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of behavioural and cognitive effects of neurological disorders. Whereas classical neurology focuses on the pathology of the nervous system and classical psychology is largely divorced from it, neuropsychology seeks to discover how the brain correlates with the mind through the study of neurological patients. It thus shares concepts and concerns with neuropsychiatry and with behavioural neurology in general. The term neuropsychology has been applied to lesion studies in humans and animals. It has also been applied in efforts to record electrical activity from individual cells (or groups of cells) in higher primates (including some studies of human patients).

In practice, neuropsychologists tend to work in research settings (universities, laboratories or research institutions), clinical settings (medical hospitals or rehabilitation settings, often involved in assessing or treating patients with neuropsychological problems), or forensic settings or industry (often as clinical-trial consultants where CNS function is a concern).

Brief History

Neuropsychology is a relatively new discipline within the field of psychology. The first textbook defining the field, Fundamentals of Human Neuropsychology, was initially published by Kolb and Whishaw in 1980. However, the history of its development can be traced back to the Third Dynasty in ancient Egypt, perhaps even earlier. There is much debate as to when societies started considering the functions of different organs. For many centuries, the brain was thought useless and was often discarded during burial processes and autopsies. As the field of medicine developed its understanding of human anatomy and physiology, different theories were developed as to why the body functioned the way it did. Many times, bodily functions were approached from a religious point of view and abnormalities were blamed on bad spirits and the gods. The brain has not always been considered the centre of the functioning body. It has taken hundreds of years to develop our understanding of the brain and how it affects our behaviours.

Ancient Egypt

In ancient Egypt, writings on medicine date from the time of the priest Imhotep. They took a more scientific approach to medicine and disease, describing the brain, trauma, abnormalities, and remedies for reference for future physicians. Despite this, Egyptians saw the heart, not the brain, as the seat of the soul.

Aristotle

Aristotle reinforced this focus on the heart which originated in Egypt. He believed the heart to be in control of mental processes, and looked on the brain, due to its inert nature, as a mechanism for cooling the heat generated by the heart. He drew his conclusions based on the empirical study of animals. He found that while their brains were cold to the touch and that such contact did not trigger any movements, the heart was warm and active, accelerating and slowing dependent on mood. Such beliefs were upheld by many for years to come, persisting through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period until they began to falter in the 17th century due to further research. The influence of Aristotle in the development of neuropsychology is evident within language used in modern day, since we “follow our hearts” and “learn by the heart.”

Hippocrates

Hippocrates viewed the brain as the seat of the soul. He drew a connection between the brain and behaviours of the body, writing: “The brain exercises the greatest power in the man.” Apart from moving the focus from the heart as the “seat of the soul” to the brain, Hippocrates did not go into much detail about its actual functioning. However, by switching the attention of the medical community to the brain, his theory led to more scientific discovery of the organ responsible for our behaviours. For years to come, scientists were inspired to explore the functions of the body and to find concrete explanations for both normal and abnormal behaviours. Scientific discovery led them to believe that there were natural and organically occurring reasons to explain various functions of the body, and it could all be traced back to the brain. Hippocrates introduced the concept of the mind – which was widely seen as a separate function apart from the actual brain organ.

René Descartes

Philosopher René Descartes expanded upon this idea and is most widely known for his work on the mind-body problem. Often Descartes’s ideas were looked upon as overly philosophical and lacking in sufficient scientific foundation. Descartes focused much of his anatomical experimentation on the brain, paying special attention to the pineal gland – which he argued was the actual “seat of the soul.” Still deeply rooted in a spiritual outlook towards the scientific world, the body was said to be mortal, and the soul immortal. The pineal gland was then thought to be the very place at which the mind would interact with the mortal and machine-like body. At the time, Descartes was convinced the mind had control over the behaviours of the body (controlling the person) – but also that the body could have influence over the mind, which is referred to as dualism. This idea that the mind essentially had control over the body, but the body could resist or even influence other behaviours, was a major turning point in the way many physiologists would look at the brain. The capabilities of the mind were observed to do much more than simply react, but also to be rational and function in organised, thoughtful ways – much more complex than he thought the animal world to be. These ideas, although disregarded by many and cast aside for years led the medical community to expand their own ideas of the brain and begin to understand in new ways just how intricate the workings of the brain really were, and the complete effects it had on daily life, as well as which treatments would be the most beneficial to helping those people living with a dysfunctional mind. The mind-body problem, spurred by René Descartes, continues to this day with many philosophical arguments both for and against his ideas. However controversial they were and remain today, the fresh and well-thought-out perspective Descartes presented has had long-lasting effects on the various disciplines of medicine, psychology and much more, especially in putting an emphasis on separating the mind from the body in order to explain observable behaviours.

Thomas Willis

It was in the mid-17th century that another major contributor to the field of neuropsychology emerged. Thomas Willis studied at Oxford University and took a physiological approach to the brain and behaviour. It was Willis who coined the words ‘hemisphere’ and ‘lobe’ when referring to the brain. He was one of the earliest to use the words ‘neurology’ and ‘psychology’. Rejecting the idea that humans were the only beings capable of rational thought, Willis looked at specialised structures of the brain. He theorised that higher structures accounted for complex functions, whereas lower structures were responsible for functions similar to those seen in other animals, consisting mostly of reactions and automatic responses. He was particularly interested in people who suffered from manic disorders and hysteria. His research constituted some of the first times that psychiatry and neurology came together to study individuals. Through his in-depth study of the brain and behaviour, Willis concluded that automated responses such as breathing, heartbeats and other various motor activities were carried out within the lower region of the brain. Although much of his work has been made obsolete, his ideas presented the brain as more complex than previously imagined, and led the way for future pioneers to understand and build upon his theories, especially when it came to looking at disorders and dysfunctions in the brain.

Franz Joseph Gall

Neuroanatomist and physiologist Franz Joseph Gall made major progress in understanding the brain. He theorized that personality was directly related to features and structures within the brain. However, Gall’s major contribution within the field of neuroscience is his invention of phrenology. This new discipline looked at the brain as an organ of the mind, where the shape of the skull could ultimately determine one’s intelligence and personality. This theory was like many circulating at the time, as many scientists were taking into account physical features of the face and body, head size, anatomical structure, and levels of intelligence; only Gall looked primarily at the brain. There was much debate over the validity of Gall’s claims however, because he was often found to be wrong in his predictions. He was once sent a cast of René Descartes’ skull, and through his method of phrenology claimed the subject must have had a limited capacity for reasoning and higher cognition. As controversial and false as many of Gall’s claims were, his contributions to understanding cortical regions of the brain and localised activity continued to advance understanding of the brain, personality, and behaviour. His work is considered crucial to having laid a firm foundation in the field of neuropsychology, which would flourish over the next few decades.

Jean-Baptiste Bouillaud

Towards the late 19th century, the belief that the size of ones skull could determine their level of intelligence was discarded as science and medicine moved forward. A physician by the name of Jean-Baptiste Bouillaud expanded upon the ideas of Gall and took a closer look at the idea of distinct cortical regions of the brain each having their own independent function. Bouillaud was specifically interested in speech and wrote many publications on the anterior region of the brain being responsible for carrying out the act of ones speech, a discovery that had stemmed from the research of Gall. He was also one of the first to use larger samples for research although it took many years for that method to be accepted. By looking at over a hundred different case studies, Bouillaud came to discover that it was through different areas of the brain that speech is completed and understood. By observing people with brain damage, his theory was made more concrete. Bouillaud, along with many other pioneers of the time made great advances within the field of neurology, especially when it came to localisation of function. There are many arguable debates as to who deserves the most credit for such discoveries, and often, people remain unmentioned, but Paul Broca is perhaps one of the most famous and well known contributors to neuropsychology – often referred to as “the father” of the discipline.

Paul Broca

Inspired by the advances being made in the area of localised function within the brain, Paul Broca committed much of his study to the phenomena of how speech is understood and produced. Through his study, it was discovered and expanded upon that we articulate via the left hemisphere. Broca’s observations and methods are widely considered to be where neuropsychology really takes form as a recognisable and respected discipline. Armed with the understanding that specific, independent areas of the brain are responsible for articulation and understanding of speech, the brains abilities were finally being acknowledged as the complex and highly intricate organ that it is. Broca was essentially the first to fully break away from the ideas of phrenology and delve deeper into a more scientific and psychological view of the brain.

Karl Spencer Lashley

Lashley’s works and theories that follow are summarised in his book Brain Mechanisms and Intelligence. Lashley’s theory of the Engram was the driving force for much of his research. An engram was believed to be a part of the brain where a specific memory was stored. He continued to use the training/ablation method that Franz had taught him. He would train a rat to learn a maze and then use systematic lesions and removed sections of cortical tissue to see if the rat forgot what it had learned.

Through his research with the rats, he learned that forgetting was dependent on the amount of tissue removed and not where it was removed from. He called this mass action and he believed that it was a general rule that governed how brain tissue would respond, independent of the type of learning. But we know now that mass action was a misinterpretation of his empirical results, because in order to run a maze the rats required multiple cortical areas. Cutting into small individual parts alone will not impair the rats’ brains much, but taking large sections removes multiple cortical areas at one time, affecting various functions such as sight, motor coordination and memory, making the animal unable to run a maze properly.

Lashley also proposed that a portion of a functional area could carry out the role of the entire area, even when the rest of the area has been removed. He called this phenomenon equipotentiality. We know now that he was seeing evidence of plasticity in the brain: within certain constraints the brain has the ability for certain areas to take over the functions of other areas if those areas should fail or be removed – although not to the extent initially argued by Lashley.

Approaches

Experimental neuropsychology is an approach that uses methods from experimental psychology to uncover the relationship between the nervous system and cognitive function. The majority of work involves studying healthy humans in a laboratory setting, although a minority of researchers may conduct animal experiments. Human work in this area often takes advantage of specific features of our nervous system (for example that visual information presented to a specific visual field is preferentially processed by the cortical hemisphere on the opposite side) to make links between neuroanatomy and psychological function.

Clinical neuropsychology is the application of neuropsychological knowledge to the assessment (see neuropsychological test and neuropsychological assessment), management, and rehabilitation of people who have suffered illness or injury (particularly to the brain) which has caused neurocognitive problems. In particular they bring a psychological viewpoint to treatment, to understand how such illness and injury may affect and be affected by psychological factors. They also can offer an opinion as to whether a person is demonstrating difficulties due to brain pathology or as a consequence of an emotional or another (potentially) reversible cause or both. For example, a test might show that both patients X and Y are unable to name items that they have been previously exposed to within the past 20 minutes (indicating possible dementia). If patient Y can name some of them with further prompting (e.g. given a categorical clue such as being told that the item they could not name is a fruit), this allows a more specific diagnosis than simply dementia (Y appears to have the vascular type which is due to brain pathology but is usually at least somewhat reversible). Clinical neuropsychologists often work in hospital settings in an interdisciplinary medical team; others work in private practice and may provide expert input into medico-legal proceedings.

Cognitive neuropsychology is a relatively new development and has emerged as a distillation of the complementary approaches of both experimental and clinical neuropsychology. It seeks to understand the mind and brain by studying people who have suffered brain injury or neurological illness. One model of neuropsychological functioning is known as functional localisation. This is based on the principle that if a specific cognitive problem can be found after an injury to a specific area of the brain, it is possible that this part of the brain is in some way involved. However, there may be reason to believe that the link between mental functions and neural regions is not so simple. An alternative model of the link between mind and brain, such as parallel processing, may have more explanatory power for the workings and dysfunction of the human brain. Yet another approach investigates how the pattern of errors produced by brain-damaged individuals can constrain our understanding of mental representations and processes without reference to the underlying neural structure. A more recent but related approach is cognitive neuropsychiatry which seeks to understand the normal function of mind and brain by studying psychiatric or mental illness.

Connectionism is the use of artificial neural networks to model specific cognitive processes using what are considered to be simplified but plausible models of how neurons operate. Once trained to perform a specific cognitive task these networks are often damaged or ‘lesioned’ to simulate brain injury or impairment in an attempt to understand and compare the results to the effects of brain injury in humans.

Functional neuroimaging uses specific neuroimaging technologies to take readings from the brain, usually when a person is doing a particular task, in an attempt to understand how the activation of particular brain areas is related to the task. In particular, the growth of methodologies to employ cognitive testing within established functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques to study brain-behaviour relations is having a notable influence on neuropsychological research.

In practice these approaches are not mutually exclusive and most neuropsychologists select the best approach or approaches for the task to be completed.

Methods and Tools

Standardised Neuropsychological Tests

These tasks have been designed so the performance on the task can be linked to specific neurocognitive processes. These tests are typically standardised, meaning that they have been administered to a specific group (or groups) of individuals before being used in individual clinical cases. The data resulting from standardisation are known as normative data. After these data have been collected and analysed, they are used as the comparative standard against which individual performances can be compared. Examples of neuropsychological tests include: the Wechsler Memory Scale (WMS), the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS), Boston Naming Test, the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, the Benton Visual Retention Test, and the Controlled Oral Word Association.

Brain Scans

The use of brain scans to investigate the structure or function of the brain is common, either as simply a way of better assessing brain injury with high resolution pictures, or by examining the relative activations of different brain areas. Such technologies may include fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) and positron emission tomography (PET), which yields data related to functioning, as well as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and computed axial tomography (CAT or CT), which yields structural data.

Global Brain Project

Brain models based on mouse and monkey have been developed based on theoretical neuroscience involving working memory and attention, while mapping brain activity based on time constants validated by measurements of neuronal activity in various layers of the brain. These methods also map to decision states of behaviour in simple tasks that involve binary outcomes.

Electrophysiology

The use of electrophysiological measures designed to measure the activation of the brain by measuring the electrical or magnetic field produced by the nervous system. This may include electroencephalography (EEG) or magneto-encephalography (MEG).

Experimental Tasks

The use of designed experimental tasks, often controlled by computer and typically measuring reaction time and accuracy on a particular tasks thought to be related to a specific neurocognitive process. An example of this is the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) or CNS Vital Signs (CNSVS).

What is Applied Psychology?

Introduction

Applied psychology is the use of psychological methods and findings of scientific psychology to solve practical problems of human and animal behaviour and experience.

Mental health, organisational psychology, business management, education, health, product design, ergonomics, and law are just a few of the areas that have been influenced by the application of psychological principles and findings. Some of the areas of applied psychology include clinical psychology, counselling psychology, evolutionary psychology, industrial and organisational psychology, legal psychology, neuropsychology, occupational health psychology, human factors, forensic psychology, engineering psychology, school psychology, sports psychology, traffic psychology, community psychology, and medical psychology. In addition, a number of specialised areas in the general field of psychology have applied branches (e.g. applied social psychology, applied cognitive psychology).

However, the lines between sub-branch specialisations and major applied psychology categories are often blurred. For example, a human factors psychologist might use a cognitive psychology theory. This could be described as human factor psychology or as applied cognitive psychology.

Brief History

The founder of applied psychology was Hugo Münsterberg. He came to America (Harvard) from Germany (Berlin, Laboratory of Stern), invited by William James, and, like many aspiring psychologists during the late 19th century, originally studied philosophy. Münsterberg had many interests in the field of psychology such as purposive psychology, social psychology and forensic psychology. In 1907 he wrote several magazine articles concerning legal aspects of testimony, confessions and courtroom procedures, which eventually developed into his book, On the Witness Stand. The following year the Division of Applied Psychology was adjoined to the Harvard Psychological Laboratory. Within 9 years he had contributed eight books in English, applying psychology to education, industrial efficiency, business and teaching. Eventually Hugo Münsterberg and his contributions would define him as the creator of applied psychology. In 1920, the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP) was founded, as the first international scholarly society within the field of psychology.

Most professional psychologists in the US worked in an academic setting until World War II. But during the war, the armed forces and the Office of Strategic Services hired psychologists in droves to work on issues such as troop morale and propaganda design. After the war, psychologists found an expanding range of jobs outside of the academy. Since 1970, the number of college graduates with degrees in psychology has more than doubled, from 33,679 to 76,671 in 2002. The annual numbers of masters’ and PhD degrees have also increased dramatically over the same period. All the while, degrees in the related fields of economics, sociology, and political science have remained constant.

Professional organisations have organised special events and meetings to promote the idea of applied psychology. In 1990, the American Psychological Society held a Behavioural Science Summit and formed the “Human Capital Initiative”, spanning schools, workplace productivity, drugs, violence, and community health. The American Psychological Association declared 2000-2010 the Decade of Behaviour, with a similarly broad scope. Psychological methods are considered applicable to all aspects of human life and society.

Advertising

Business advertisers have long consulted psychologists in assessing what types of messages will most effectively induce a person to buy a particular product. Using the psychological research methods and the findings in human’s cognition, motivation, attitudes and decision making, those can help to design more persuasive advertisement. Their research includes the study of unconscious influences and brand loyalty. However, the effect of unconscious influences was controversial.

Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychology includes the study and application of psychology for the purpose of understanding, preventing, and relieving psychologically-based distress or dysfunction and to promote subjective well-being and personal development. Central to its practice are psychological assessment and psychotherapy, although clinical psychologists may also engage in research, teaching, consultation, forensic testimony, and program development and administration. Some clinical psychologists may focus on the clinical management of patients with brain injury – this area is known as clinical neuropsychology. In many countries clinical psychology is a regulated mental health profession.

The work performed by clinical psychologists tends to be done inside various therapy models, all of which involve a formal relationship between professional and client – usually an individual, couple, family, or small group – that employs a set of procedures intended to form a therapeutic alliance, explore the nature of psychological problems, and encourage new ways of thinking, feeling, or behaving. The four major perspectives are:

  1. Psychodynamic;
  2. Cognitive behavioural;
  3. Existential-humanistic; and
  4. Systems or family therapy.

There has been a growing movement to integrate these various therapeutic approaches, especially with an increased understanding of issues regarding ethnicity, gender, spirituality, and sexual-orientation. With the advent of more robust research findings regarding psychotherapy, there is growing evidence that most of the major therapies are about of equal effectiveness, with the key common element being a strong therapeutic alliance. Because of this, more training programmes and psychologists are now adopting an eclectic therapeutic orientation.

Clinical psychologists do not usually prescribe medication, although there is a growing number of psychologists who do have prescribing privileges, in the field of medical psychology. In general, however, when medication is warranted many psychologists will work in cooperation with psychiatrists so that clients get therapeutic needs met. Clinical psychologists may also work as part of a team with other professionals, such as social workers and nutritionists.

Counselling Psychology

Counselling psychology is an applied specialisation within psychology, that involves both research and practice in a number of different areas or domains. According to Gelso and Fretz (2001), there are some central unifying themes among counselling psychologists. These include a focus on an individual’s strengths, relationships, their educational and career development, as well as a focus on normal personalities. Counselling psychologists help people improve their well-being, reduce and manage stress, and improve overall functioning in their lives. The interventions used by Counselling Psychologists may be either brief or long-term in duration. Often they are problem focused and goal-directed. There is a guiding philosophy which places a value on individual differences and an emphasis on “prevention, development, and adjustment across the life-span.”

Educational Psychology

Educational psychology is devoted to the study of how humans learn in educational settings, especially schools. Psychologists assess the effects of specific educational interventions: e.g. phonics versus whole language instruction in early reading attainment. They also study the question of why learning occurs differently in different situations.

Another domain of educational psychology is the psychology of teaching. In some colleges, educational psychology courses are called “the psychology of learning and teaching”. Educational psychology derives a great deal from basic-science disciplines within psychology including cognitive science and behaviourally-oriented research on learning.

Environmental Psychology

Environmental psychology is the psychological study of humans and their interactions with their environments. The types of environments studied are limitless, ranging from homes, offices, classrooms, factories, nature, and so on. However, across these different environments, there are several common themes of study that emerge within each one. Noise level and ambient temperature are clearly present in all environments and often subjects of discussion for environmental psychologists. Crowding and stressors are a few other aspects of environments studied by this sub-discipline of psychology. When examining a particular environment, environmental psychology looks at the goals and purposes of the people in the using the environment, and tries to determine how well the environment is suiting the needs of the people using it. For example, a quiet environment is necessary for a classroom of students taking a test, but would not be needed or expected on a farm full of animals. The concepts and trends learned through environmental psychology can be used when setting up or rearranging spaces so that the space will best perform its intended function. The top common, more well known areas of psychology that drive this applied field include: cognitive, perception, learning, and social psychology.

Forensic Psychology and Legal Psychology

Forensic psychology and legal psychology are the areas concerned with the application of psychological methods and principles to legal questions and issues. Most typically, forensic psychology involves a clinical analysis of a particular individual and an assessment of some specific psycho-legal question. The psycho-legal question does not have to be criminal in nature. In fact, the forensic psychologist rarely gets involved in the actual criminal investigations. Custody cases are a great example of non-criminal evaluations by forensic psychologists. The validity and upholding of eyewitness testimony is an area of forensic psychology that does veer closer to criminal investigations, though does not directly involve the psychologist in the investigation process. Psychologists are often called to testify as expert witnesses on issues such as the accuracy of memory, the reliability of police interrogation, and the appropriate course of action in child custody cases.

Legal psychology refers to any application of psychological principles, methods or understanding to legal questions or issues. In addition to the applied practices, legal psychology also includes academic or empirical research on topics involving the relationship of law to human mental processes and behaviour. However, inherent differences that arise when placing psychology in the legal context. Psychology rarely makes absolute statements. Instead, psychologists traffic in the terms like level of confidence, percentages, and significance. Legal matters, on the other hand, look for absolutes: guilty or not guilty. This makes for a sticky union between psychology and the legal system. Some universities operate dual JD/PhD programmes focusing on the intersection of these two areas.

The Committee on Legal Issues of the American Psychological Association is known to file amicus curae briefs (someone who is not a party to a case who assists a court by offering information, expertise, or insight that has a bearing on the issues in the case), as applications of psychological knowledge to high-profile court cases.

A related field, police psychology, involves consultation with police departments and participation in police training.

Health and Medicine

Health psychology concerns itself with understanding how biology, behaviour, and social context influence health and illness. Health psychologists generally work alongside other medical professionals in clinical settings, although many also teach and conduct research. Although its early beginnings can be traced to the kindred field of clinical psychology, four different approaches to health psychology have been defined: clinical, public health, community and critical health psychology.

Health psychologists aim to change health behaviours for the dual purpose of helping people stay healthy and helping patients adhere to disease treatment regimens. The focus of health psychologists tend to centre on the health crisis facing the western world particularly in the US. Cognitive behavioural therapy and behaviour modification are techniques often employed by health psychologists. Psychologists also study patients’ compliance with their doctors’ orders.

Health psychologists view a person’s mental condition as heavily related to their physical condition. An important concept in this field is stress, a mental phenomenon with well-known consequences for physical health.

Medical

Medical psychology involves the application of a range of psychological principles, theories and findings applied to the effective management of physical and mental disorders to improve the psychological and physical health of the patient. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines medical psychology as the branch of psychology that integrates somatic and psychotherapeutic modalities, into the management of mental illness, health rehabilitation and emotional, cognitive, behavioural and substance use disorders. According to Muse and Moore (2012), the medical psychologist’s contributions in the areas of psychopharmacology which sets it apart from other of psychotherapy and psychotherapists.

Occupational Health Psychology

Occupational health psychology (OHP) is a relatively new discipline that emerged from the confluence of health psychology, industrial and organisational psychology, and occupational health. OHP has its own journals and professional organisations. The field is concerned with identifying psychosocial characteristics of workplaces that give rise to health-related problems in people who work. These problems can involve physical health (e.g., cardiovascular disease) or mental health (e.g. depression). Examples of psychosocial characteristics of workplaces that OHP has investigated include amount of decision latitude a worker can exercise and the supportiveness of supervisors. OHP is also concerned with the development and implementation of interventions that can prevent or ameliorate work-related health problems. In addition, OHP research has important implications for the economic success of organisations. Other research areas of concern to OHP include workplace incivility and violence, work-home carryover, unemployment and downsizing, and workplace safety and accident prevention. Two important OHP journals are the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology and Work & Stress. Three important organisations closely associated with OHP are the International Commission on Occupational Health’s Scientific Committee on Work Organisation and Psychosocial Factors (ICOH-WOPS), the Society for Occupational Health Psychology, and the European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology.

Human Factors and Ergonomics

Human factors and ergonomics (HF&E) is the study of how cognitive and psychological processes affect our interaction with tools, machines, and objects in the environment. Many branches of psychology attempt to create models of and understand human behaviour. These models are usually based on data collected from experiments. Human Factor psychologists however, take the same data and use it to design or adapt processes and objects that will complement the human component of the equation. Rather than humans learning how to use and manipulate a piece of technology, human factors strives to design technology to be inline with the human behaviour models designed by general psychology. This could be accounting for physical limitations of humans, as in ergonomics, or designing systems, especially computer systems, that work intuitively with humans, as does engineering psychology.

Ergonomics is applied primarily through office work and the transportation industry. Psychologists here take into account the physical limitations of the human body and attempt to reduce fatigue and stress by designing products and systems that work within the natural limitations of the human body. From simple things like the size of buttons and design of office chairs to layout of airplane cockpits, human factor psychologists, specializing in ergonomics, attempt to de-stress our everyday lives and sometimes even save them.

Human factor psychologists specialising in engineering psychology tend to take on slightly different projects than their ergonomic centred counterparts. These psychologists look at how a human and a process interact. Often engineering psychology may be centred on computers. However at the base level, a process is simply a series of inputs and outputs between a human and a machine. The human must have a clear method to input data and be able to easily access the information in output. The inability of rapid and accurate corrections can sometimes lead to drastic consequences, as summed up by many stories in Set Phasers on Stun. The engineering psychologists wants to make the process of inputs and outputs as intuitive as possible for the user.

The goal of research in human factors is to understand the limitations and biases of human mental processes and behaviour, and design items and systems that will interact accordingly with the limitations. Some may see human factors as intuitive or a list of dos and don’ts, but in reality, human factor research strives to make sense of large piles of data to bring precise applications to product designs and systems to help people work more naturally, intuitively with the items of their surroundings.

Industrial and Organisational Psychology

Industrial and organisational psychology, or I-O psychology, focuses on the psychology of work. Relevant topics within I-O psychology include the psychology of recruitment, selecting employees from an applicant pool, training, performance appraisal, job satisfaction, work motivation. work behaviour, occupational stress, accident prevention, occupational safety and health, management, retirement planning and unemployment among many other issues related to the workplace and people’s work lives. In short, I-O psychology is the application of psychology to the workplace. One aspect of this field is job analysis, the detailed study of which behaviours a given job entails.

Though the name of the title “Industrial Organisational Psychology” implies 2 split disciplines being chained together, it is near impossible to have one half without the other. If asked to generally define the differences, Industrial psychology focuses more on the Human Resources aspects of the field, and organisational psychology focuses more on the personal interactions of the employees. When applying these principles however, they are not easily broken apart. For example, when developing requirements for a new job position, the recruiters are looking for an applicant with strong communication skills in multiple areas. The developing of the position requirements falls under the industrial psychology, human resource type work. and the requirement of communication skills is related to how the employee with interacts with co-workers. As seen here, it is hard to separate task of developing a qualifications list from the types of qualifications on the list. This is parallel to how the I and O are nearly inseparable in practice. Therefore, I-O psychologists are generally rounded in both industrial and organisational psychology though they will have some specialisation. Other topics of interest for I-O psychologists include performance evaluation, training, and much more.

Military psychology includes research into the classification, training, and performance of soldiers

School Psychology

School psychology is a field that applies principles of clinical psychology and educational psychology to the diagnosis and treatment of students’ behavioural and learning problems. School psychologists are educated in child and adolescent development, learning theories, psychological and psycho-educational assessment, personality theories, therapeutic interventions, special education, psychology, consultation, child and adolescent psychopathology, and the ethical, legal and administrative codes of their profession.

According to Division 16 (Division of School Psychology) of the American Psychological Association (APA), school psychologists operate according to a scientific framework. They work to promote effectiveness and efficiency in the field. School psychologists conduct psychological assessments, provide brief interventions, and develop or help develop prevention programmes. Additionally, they evaluate services with special focus on developmental processes of children within the school system, and other systems, such as families. School psychologists consult with teachers, parents, and school personnel about learning, behavioural, social, and emotional problems. They may teach lessons on parenting skills (like school counsellors), learning strategies, and other skills related to school mental health. In addition, they explain test results to parents and students. They provide individual, group, and in some cases family counselling. School psychologists are actively involved in district and school crisis intervention teams. They also supervise graduate students in school psychology. School psychologists in many districts provide professional development to teachers and other school personnel on topics such as positive behaviour intervention plans and achievement tests.

One salient application for school psychology in today’s world is responding to the unique challenges of increasingly multicultural classrooms. For example, psychologists can contribute insight about the differences between individualistic and collectivistic cultures.

School psychologists are influential within the school system and are frequently consulted to solve problems. Practitioners should be able to provide consultation and collaborate with other members of the educational community and confidently make decisions based on empirical research.

Social Change

Psychologists have been employed to promote “green” behaviour, i.e. sustainable development. In this case, their goal is behaviour modification, through strategies such as social marketing. Tactics include education, disseminating information, organising social movements, passing laws, and altering taxes to influence decisions.

Psychology has been applied on a world scale with the aim of population control. For example, one strategy towards television programming combines social models in a soap opera with informational messages during advertising time. This strategy successfully increased women’s enrolment at family planning clinics in Mexico. The programming – which has been deployed around the world by Population Communications International and the Population Media Centre – combines family planning messages with representations of female education and literacy.

Sport Psychology

Sport psychology is a specialisation within psychology that seeks to understand psychological/mental factors that affect performance in sports, physical activity and exercise and apply these to enhance individual and team performance. The sport psychology approach differs from the coaches and players perspective. Coaches tend to narrow their focus and energy towards the end-goal. They are concerned with the actions that lead to the win, as opposed to the sport psychologist who tries to focus the players thoughts on just achieving the win. Sport psychology trains players mentally to prepare them, whereas coaches tend to focus mostly on physical training. Sport psychology deals with increasing performance by managing emotions and minimising the psychological effects of injury and poor performance. Some of the most important skills taught are goal setting, relaxation, visualisation, self-talk awareness and control, concentration, using rituals, attribution training, and periodisation. The principles and theories may be applied to any human movement or performance tasks (e.g. playing a musical instrument, acting in a play, public speaking, motor skills). Usually, experts recommend that students be trained in both kinesiology (i.e. sport and exercise sciences, physical education) and counselling.

Traffic Psychology

Traffic psychology is an applied discipline within psychology that looks at the relationship between psychological processes and cognitions and the actual behaviour of road users. In general, traffic psychologists attempt to apply these principles and research findings, in order to provide solutions to problems such as traffic mobility and congestion, road accidents, speeding. Research psychologists also are involved with the education and the motivation of road users.