Neuropsychology is a specialty of psychology dedicated to understanding the relationships between the brain and behavior. A neuropsychologist studies the structure and function of the brain while relating it to human thoughts and behaviors.
The study of neuropsychology has been around for a long time, but it was only in the 1960s that someone formally created an independent field of scientific inquiry with that name.
Neuropsychological evaluations are explicitly needed to help understand how the different areas function in a person’s brain. Testing is recommended when there are behavioral or physical symptoms involving memory or thinking. Such problems are recognized as changes in thinking processes like concentration, organization, memory, language, reasoning, perception, body coordination, and personality. Many factors trigger these changes, including medical, neurological, psychological, or genetic causes.
The assessments used by the neuropsychologist are vital to distinguish and diagnose neurological and psychological disorders and treat them accordingly.
What is the Study of Neuropsychology?
Neuropsychology aims to fully comprehend the relationships between the brain, the mind, and behavioral patterns.
Its traditional approach was the analysis of the connections between focal brain lesions and psychological problems. Neuropsychology uses tested methodology and theoretical frameworks to understand the functional properties of both the mind and the brain.
Multiple brain dysfunctions create mental disorders. The source, the cause, and the reason why they manifested are the focus of a neuropsychologist. When the relationship between brain disorders and mental disorders is determined, a neuropsychologist can make the right diagnoses to give patients proper and effective treatments.
Multiple mental disorders do not physically show abnormality or other types of apparent brain disorders. But many mental disabilities can and do start with brain damage or a neurological condition. Some behavioral and cognitive irregularities can also be the product of a repairable neurological problem. If this is the case, a neuropsychologist will conduct tests to determine the problem and recommend the best treatment plan.
Why is Neuropsychology Important?
Clinical neuropsychology touches all age and development spans that have concerns about brain functions. Concerns can range from academic problems in children to brain dysfunctions because of old age. Neuropsychologists deal with some cases like autism, attention disorders, concussion, epilepsy, stroke, dementia, and more.
People often consult neuropsychologists who diagnose and treat children who appear to have learning disabilities that need to be appropriately addressed. Neuropsychologists provide the best evaluation and treatment for such cases.
Neuropsychologists can also rule out and diagnose the following neuropsychological disorders:
● Down’s syndrome
● Alzheimer’s disease
● Multiple Sclerosis
● Parkinson’s disease
● Cerebrovascular diseases (including stroke)
● Brain tumors
The study also helps form a basis for how each individual should be treated, as the required psychological services needed to treat the problem can differ from person to person.
What Does a Neuropsychologist Do Exactly?
A neuropsychologist’s practices involve evaluating and treating people with brain and nervous system disorders. Their role is to analyze and comprehend the brain functions and how these are concerned with human behavior and cognition.
Neuropsychologists can understand and investigate the psychological origins of psychological processes. Their primary role is to determine a patient’s brain-behavior conditions to diagnose or understand the problem or disorder.
A neuropsychologist can determine developmental, behavioral, or neurological impairments and the acuteness of a patient’s condition. A neuropsychologist works with different healthcare professionals, usually psychologists and neurologists, to assess a patient properly.
A neuropsychologist will conduct an evaluation using imaging techniques and tests available like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scans, and electroencephalogram (EEG) to make a thorough diagnosis.
Neuropsychologists can choose to operate as a part of a group practice, or a team of experts that focus on developing rehabilitation and treatment in a medical or hospital setting. Some neuropsychologists even have a private practice where they conduct tests and diagnose their clients. Another alternative career decision for a neuropsychologist is to operate in a laboratory setting, conducting research.
The following is a list of areas a neuropsychologist may choose to work in:
● Clinical setting– offering rehabilitation and treatment for patients diagnosed with neurological disorders.
● Academic setting– researching at a university.
● School setting– arranging education and psychological support plans for students in an academic facility.
● Hospital setting– treating and rehabilitating patients in a hospital or rehabilitation center.
● Laboratory– researching neurological functions in a pharmaceutical environment.
How Often Should Neuropsychological Testing Be Done?
The neuropsychological evaluation consists of compiling the relevant history of the patient, a neuropsychological examination, analysis and integration of data and findings, and feedback to the referral source. The history of the patient involves their medical and other records. If allowed by the patient, family members or other people close to the patient will be interviewed and asked to share their experience with the patient’s symptoms and behaviors.
The examination conducted for the patient is usually several standardized tests using oral questions, paper and pencil, computers, the manipulation of materials such as blocks and puzzles, and other procedures.
The focus areas that a neuropsychologist might assess include:
● Executive Functioning – these are the skills needed for planning, focusing attention, remembering and implementing instructions, and multi-tasking.
● Focus & Attention– this is important to assess because problems with focus and attention could be signs of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders.
● Intellectual Functioning– this is the capacity to think, strategize, and communicate effectively. These skills are needed for learning and problem-solving.
● Academic Functioning– academic achievement or lack thereof can be connected to psychological distress.
● Adaptive Functioning– this is the capacity to socialize and function in different environments and situations.
● Personality Assessment– this is a test scored according to scientific/empirical standards to determine behaviors in different settings.
● Motor Speed/Skills & Coordination– these tests are designed to determine body coordination, motor speed, and reaction time. This assessment aids in diagnosing neurological disorders.
Assessments that deal with these areas are crucial in distinguishing and diagnosing neurological and psychological disorders
To monitor the progress of a patient, assessments can be repeated every 2-3 years. This is also vital to determine whether or not treatment needs to be modified.
Neuropsychological Services for Your Loved One
Different people face different kinds of problems throughout their lives. You or your loved one may be undergoing problems or traumas that need specialized treatment.
We here at Persona provide services ranging from psychological rehabilitation to neurobehavioral assessments and therapy to help you find out any problems your loved one may be experiencing as well as the best way to solve those problems.
To learn more about our doctors, services, and our locations, visit our services page.
Designer Drugs: Why it is so dangerous?
People would think that designer drugs are a safer alternative because they are synthesized intentionally to replicate the effects of illicit drugs. However, it’s proven that designer drugs are more dangerous than the original substances they tried to mimic. The health effects and chemical combinations used for any designer drug are unknown because illegal laboratories produce different formulas. This difference means that no one that uses them is entirely aware of the chemicals they are ingesting.
Additionally, many of the substances used while manufacturing designer drugs are not made for human consumption. That’s why these drugs are illegal. However, chemists are known to quickly change ingredients purposefully and sell the substance as products like incense, plant food, or even dietary supplements to evade legal intervention.
The long-term health problems that come from designer drugs are still up for investigation and research. Even so, there are many cases of people who use K2, a synthetic version of marijuana, who end up in emergency rooms because of bleeding out or falling into a catatonic state. These cases are often caused by applying the other artificial chemicals in the substance to induce a stronger high.
Another harmful factor of designer drugs is that not all of them can be detected by a drug test, enabling people who use drugs to get away with their consumption.
Are Designer Drugs Addictive?
Because of the constant modification of designer drugs, researchers are not entirely sure whether designer drugs are addictive or not.
Chemists manufacturing these illegal substances use ingredients and chemicals that are unregulated and unmonitored. Even a single previous batch of a specific designer drug may be chemically different from another made just after it. For some, this makes the drugs appealing as they are unique and only available to certain people.
When regulators ban a particular ingredient, all manufacturers immediately change their processes and chemicals to avoid legality issues. The ban results in an almost impossible task for researchers to determine which designer drugs are addictive or not. Health officials themselves cannot keep track of the constant alteration of the designer drugs sold.
But based on the current studies regarding this, it’s seen that many of the substances have addictive qualities, can affect specific receptors in the brain, and generate harmful and even lethal short-term and long-term effects in someone’s body. It’s still not entirely sure which chemicals causes which effects, but it is an ongoing investigation by researchers.
What Are the Harmful Effects of Designer Drugs?
The effects of designer drugs on someone’s overall health are usually unknown. There are bound to be chemical mistakes and mixtures in an unmonitored laboratory that could be lethal to a person’s health. It’s also dangerous that one cannot be entirely sure of the potency of ingredients used in a designer drug.
Since designer drugs are created very quickly, we have very little information regarding the ways or specific ingredients used to develop them. These factors contribute to a high rate of accidental overdoses and deaths for people who ingest designer drugs.
The spread of these substances does not follow regulations and rules and usually manufacture products without the thought of health precautions. People who use them risk serious health issues, lethal side effects, addiction, and even death when they use the drug.
Although we can’t be precisely sure about how a designer drug will affect one’s body, there are some potential short and long-term effects of designer drugs:
- Intense euphoria/exhilaration
- Decreased appetite
- Panic attacks
- Slurred speech
- High or low blood pressure
- Violent behavior
What Are the Most Prevalent Designer Drugs?
According to the DEA, the most popular used designer drugs are synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones. Among them are:
- K2/Spice (among other synthetic cannabinoids)
- Benzo Fury
- Bath salts
If you know someone struggling with drug addiction, it’s best to consult professionals that can help your loved one get on the right path. Our team of caring professionals is always ready to bring your loved one back to the right path. For more information, you can check out some of the services that we offer.
Disclaimer: This post serves a strictly educational use. It does not reflect the services, products, or therapeutic approaches of this establishment or its healthcare practitioners. This blog aims not to advertise the products, services, or therapeutic approaches of any other establishment that may be associated with this site. On the subject of safe or legal services, products, and appropriate therapies, recommendations ought to be given by a qualified professional on a case to case basis.