Neuropsychology is the scientific study of neural correlates for cognition and behavior, with a specific clinical interest in patients presenting with a range of medical, neurological, and psychiatric illnesses. (Bradley’s Textbook of Neurology)
It helps to understand individuals, thru assessment of behavior, emotion, intelligence, personality, relations and cognition.
It has main two main aspects:
Diagnostic assessment aids to neurological examinations and neuroimaging by determining the extent to which cognition is affected by disease process and assists the treating physician in objective quantification.
It is helpful even in conditions, not evident on examination or even on MRI. It also helps predicting functional capability to enhance treatment planning and monitor therapeutics. Neuropsychological assessment is also used in forensic settings.
A complete assessment includes onset and course of the disease process, patient’s social, developmental and cognitive background, any significant past medical and psychiatric history, family history, his academics, achievements and psychosocial functioning. Caregiver interview sometimes is the most important key. The approach to each patient should be individualized.
There are two types of diagnostic approach, used by the psychologists:
- The fixed battery approach: It is composed of gathering all the possible data, comprehensively and systematically. It is very helpful for comparison, tracking of the same patient and forming a hypothesis about the disease process. Sometimes, it is a lengthy process and may not to be relevant to the present problem.
- The flexible battery (or hypothesis-driven) approach: Based on the referral question asked, a brief “modifiable” test battery is used. This routinely preferred approach is need-based adjusted strategy. It sometimes may miss additional confounding factors or aspects of the disease.
Therapeutic psychology helps patients and caregivers with counseling and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT).
CBT is a newer interventional treatment approach for various psychosomatic issues, related to behavior and cognition. It is problem-focused and action-oriented. Psychologists identify critical behavioral patterns and help the patient to modify it. A usual treatment plan is face-to face interaction between the therapist and the patient for 30-45 minutes, for 10-12 sittings.
Although both – psychology and psychiatry deal with the same “mental” process- its assessment and therapeutics, there is fundamental difference between the two. Commonly, psychiatrists use medical model and treat the patients with pharmacotherapy; while psychologists have their ability in detailed assessment and treat with counseling.
Neurological disorders have a variety of behavioral and cognitive problems, which needs assessment and proper treatment. We have specified tests/batteries for dementia patients, for assessing cognitive abilities and limitations. It helps neurologists to diagnose, monitor and modify treatment of an individual patient.
A lot of psychosomatic issues may have overlapped neurological symptoms, which may be improved with proper counseling.
We also are in the process of developing developmental batteries for a child’s brain growth.
List of diseases, we are focusing for psychological help include:
- Development assessment
- IQ assessment
- Somatoform Conversion Disorders