Learn about Neuropsychology
Neuropsychology is a specialist area of psychology. It is relevant to people who seek a more in-depth understanding of the brain and how damage through congenital conditions, injury, disease or disorders can affect its functioning and behaviour. It is assumed that people opting to take this course have some basic understanding of the brain's anatomy as well as reasonable knowledge of human biology. The course doesn't cover how to undertake psychological testing of neuropsychological problems but it does provide students with a solid grounding in brain dysfunctions.
Learn about the nervous system through understanding dysfunctions
The nervous system allows humans to adapt to changes. Changes can occur inside (e.g. too little oxygen while running) or outside (e.g. the anticipation of food or the chill of a winter wind). The nervous system will perceive the change and will take actions to adjust to it. The nervous system is rather like the lookout on a riverboat; it monitors conditions and gives warnings when something unusual or dangerous is ahead. Once the warning is received, the body is able to take steps to avoid or correct the situation. The nervous system has to be highly complex to be able to perform such sophisticated services.
Until the late 1800’s, scientists did not know if the nervous system was made up vast networks of connected nerve cells, or whether the cells were separate. We now know that they are, and that they carry out their enormous task of keeping the body alive and functioning, and our minds working, by means of chains of action. The human brain is estimated to have around 100 billion nerve cells working to help create apparently seamless and integrated action, thought, and body function. To understand how they interact, we must learn about their individual structure and behaviours.
This fascinating course will help you to understand how the central nervous system works, it's components, and what might happen when things go wrong.
- Describe the relevance of neuropsychology to managing psychological disorders.
- Explain the physiology of the nervous system.
- Describe the anatomy of the nervous system.
- Describe how conditions within the brain affect the way in which a person is physically capable or incapable of performing a variety of different tasks.
- Explain how various aspects of a person’s thought processes may vary according to that person’s neurobiology.
- Describe a variety of perceptual disorders.
- Explain a variety of motor disorders.
- Explain the neuropsychology of language.
- Differentiate between different dementias.
- Explain aspects of development in neuropsychological terms.
Course Structure and Content
There are 10 lessons in this course:
- Foundations of Neuropsychology
- Laterality and Callosal Syndromes
- Cognition, Personality and Emotion
- Perception Disorders
- Motor Disorders
What is covered by each of these lessons?
Foundations of Neuropsychology - What is neuropsychology? The Information Processing Approach. Studying the human mind, techniques used, brain scans, animal studies, methods of investigating the brain, psychological tests, Stroop test.
Neurophysiology – Neurons, parts of a neuron, neurotransmitters, effects of neurotransmitters, neurotransmitters and their effects, endorphins, disorders associated with neurotransmitters, glia cells, Schwann cells, nerve impulse, synaptic transmission, nerve impulse, neuromuscular transmission.
Neuroanatomy – the nervous system, parts of the central nervous system, the brain, the spinal cord, spinal nerves, blood brain barrier, peripheral nervous system, autonomic nervous system, sensory somatic nervous system, spinal nerves, cranial nerves, how the nervous system works (a summary), problems with brain functioning, cerebral palsy, brain tumours, injuries to the head, epilepsy, headaches, mental illness, meningitis and encephalitis.
Laterality and Callosal Syndromes – Brain lateralisation, left handedness, cognitive neuropsychology, callosal syndrome, complete severance, split brain, complete severance, split brain syndrome, lobotomy, psychosurgery, Dual brain theory.
Cognition, Personality and Emotion – Brain damage, emotion and moods, Phineas Gage, brain damage and emotion, frontal lobe, higher level functioning, the Limbic system, neurotransmitters, neuropsychology and emotions research.
Perception Disorders – Hemi spatial neglect, causes of hemi spatial neglect, auditory perceptual disorder, agnosia, visual agnosia, types of visual agnosia, prosopagnosia, simultanagnosia, optic aphasia, hallucinogen persisting perception disorder.
Motor Disorders – Parkinson’s Disease, motor disorders resulting from traumatic brain injury, non traumatic and/or genetic paediatric movement disorders, cerebral palsy, motor conditions, Gerstmann’s Syndrome, apraxia, motor skills disorder, motion dyspraxia, neural transplants and Parkinson’s Disease, gene therapy, how does gene therapy work, ethical issues surrounding gene therapy,
Language – Broca’s area, Wernicke’s area, speech, language, speech and language disorders, apraxia, aphasia, stuttering, neurogenic stuttering, Troyer syndrome, speech disorders.
Dementia – Kinds of dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, Vascular Dementia, Multi-infarct Dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, Pick’s Disease, Dementia with Lewy Bodies, Huntingdon’s Disease, Pseudo-Dementia, spotting dementia and other conditions,
Neurodevelopment - Major processes of neurodevelopment, neurogenesis, migration, differentiation, apoptosis, arborisation, synaptogenesis, Asperger Syndrome, neuroplasticity and brain damage.
PARTS OF THE CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM (CNS)
The central nervous system is organised in a hierarchy, with higher centres controlling lower centres. The conductor and coordinator of its operations is the brain. The spinal cord both carries out reflexes and acts as a relay station for messages from the brain to muscles, organs and other parts of the body, and from those parts back to the brain.
The human brain is made of three main sections: hindbrain, midbrain, and forebrain, sometimes called respectively rhombencephalon, mesencephalon, and prosencephalon (encephalon meaning brain).
This is the posterior part of the brain, made up of several parts including:.
- Medulla or medulla oblongata, which can be seen as an elaborate extension of the spine. Through cranial nerves, it controls some vital reflexes, including respiration, heart rate, coughing, circulation, and salivation, and also, links the spinal chord with the rest of the brain.
- Cerebellum, which is important for controlling movement, balance and coordination. It also seems to be responsible for timing, since damage to the cerebellum seems to result in difficulties with producing or identifying rhythm.
- Pons, which contains some cranial nerves, and many of its axons bridge the left and right hemispheres (pons means bridge).
- Reticular formation which helps control motor areas of the spinal chord. The ascending part communicates with the cerebral cortex to maintain consciousness, and regulates activity through the central nervous system, including sleep.
This is in the middle of the brain, and in adult mammals, is surrounded by the forebrain. Its main parts are:
- Tectum, which is the roof of the midbrain and has two side swellings: the superior and the inferior colliculus which transmit sensory information involved in regulating vision and auditory stimuli.
- Tegmentum, which is below the tectum, and is involved in a variety of functions, mostly related to movement.
The most prominent and most recently evolved part of the mammalian brain, the forebrain (or cerebrum) is responsible for many of our higher-level capabilities.
- Cerebral cortex, which covers the forebrain and is a layer of unmyelinated cells that make up the grey matter most of us associate with the brain. It contains around ten billion neurons. This cortex is responsible for processing and integrating sensory information, most of which passes through the thalamus. It is also responsible for higher intellectual functions, such as perception, reasoning, and judgment. Beneath the cerebral cortex are other critical brain structures.
- Thalamus, which receives most sensory information, processes it, and sends it to the cerebral cortex. Sometimes, there is back and forth transmission of information. Olfactory information, however, does directly to the cerebral cortex without being processed in the thalamus, which links smell directly to our emotional centres.
- Hypothalamus, which is a small area with extensive connections with other parts of the fore-brain and with the midbrain. It sends messages to the pituitary gland, affecting release of hormones to help regulate a wide range of behaviours including eating, sleeping and sex. Damage to the hypothalamus can cause abnormal behaviour in these areas.
How This Course Could Help You
This course will be helpful wherever an understanding of brain dysfunctions and behaviour is needed. It will be of most value to those with an interest in: