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Neuropsicologia Psinove

What is it?

Neuropsychology is an interdisciplinary field that emerged from the intersection of Psychology and Neurology, studying the relationship between human behavior and its neurological basis.

Alexander Luria, one of the leading figures in Neuropsychology, argued that our brain is a complex functional system in which mental processes such as perception, memory, reasoning, reading, writing, arithmetic, among others, are not confined to a specific area of the brain but interconnected systematically through three units: I (brainstem and limbic system); II (parietal, temporal, and occipital lobes); and III (frontal lobes).

Later, António Damásio expanded the field of Neuropsychology by showing that our behavior depends not only on our brain but also on the interaction with the body through emotions, which he referred to as "somatic markers" - automatic mechanisms that support our decisions based on previous emotional experiences stored in the prefrontal cortex in the form of bodily sensations.

What is it for?

A neuropsychological consultation, typically conducted by a clinical psychologist with expertise in neuropsychology, can be divided into two parts: neuropsychological assessment and cognitive rehabilitation.

The neuropsychological assessment consists of a quantitative and qualitative evaluation of cognitive functions, behavior, and emotions, comparing the results obtained with what is expected for individuals of the same age and educational level, providing the basis for probable diagnoses and cognitive deficits associated with possible pathologies.

The neuropsychological assessment is carried out in response to complaints related to:

  • Memory;
  • Attention/concentration;
  • Problem-solving;
  • Calculations;
  • Language alterations;
  • Behavior and personality changes.

It is an essential assessment after cerebrovascular accidents (CVAs) and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), in degenerative dementia diseases like Alzheimer's, in patients with psychotic disorders (schizophrenia) or with bipolar disorder, and in all situations where individuals or their families notice changes in their daily lives, in tasks that were previously easy to perform. This assessment uses specific instruments and is usually requested by a general practitioner, neurologist, or psychiatrist, with whom the neuropsychologist works closely.

For example, let\'s imagine that suddenly you began to forget many things or became disoriented in time and space. The neuropsychological assessment would help determine if there is a cognitive deficit. If not, you would be reassured and understand that your complaints may be due to the normal aging process, current life conditions, or another psychological disorder like depression. If real cognitive deficits were identified, an appropriate intervention plan would be developed - cognitive rehabilitation.

Therefore, with the data from the neuropsychological assessment, it is possible to outline and implement a specialized plan for cognitive rehabilitation or cognitive stimulation, aiming for a full recovery of the deficit or stabilization of a deteriorating process, adaptation to it, and family support if needed. Fortunately, most cases do not involve serious neurological disorders, and since the nervous system is neuroplastic, meaning it can adapt and reorganize its properties, it can rebalance and rehabilitate itself from physical or mental injuries, allowing us to work on and rehabilitate cognitive functions.

Bibliographical references

DAMÁSIO, A. (1995). Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain (2nd ed). Lisbon: Europa-America Publications.
LURIA, A. R. (1976). The Working Brain: An Introduction to Neuropsychology. New York: Basic Books.

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