PSYB65 - Chapter 1 - Sep 13, 2010
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Chapter 1 Introduction to Neuropsychology
Module 1.1: Introduction to Neuropsychology
The 10% Myth
There is no evidence to suggest that there is any part of your brain that you do not use.
What is Neuropsychology?
-Psychology – study of behaviour (an attempt to describe, explain, predict, and change
-Neuropsychology – study of the relation between behaviour and the activity of the brain.
-Clinical Neuropsychology – branch of neuropsychology concerned with psychological
assessment, management, and rehabilitation of neurological disease and injury.
-Experimental Neuropsychology (referred to as cognitive neuropsychology or cognitive
neuroscience) – branch focuses on how human behaviour arises from brain activity, which
includes explaining how patterns of behavioural impairments can be explained in terns of
disruptions to the damaged neural components.
Heart, Mind, and Brain: The Early History of Neuropsychology
-Empedocles: the heart was the source of human behaviour, known as the cardiac or cardio-
-Aristotle came to the same conclusion, and concluded that the heart was the source of thought
and sensation. He argued that the brain served as a radiator, cooling the blood. Aristotle was
wrong on both counts.
-Hippocrates and Galen: the brain is responsible for the source of human behaviour, a view
that is referred to as the cephalo-centric hypothesis or the brain hypothesis.
-Early theories of brain function did not typically recognize the importance of the brain in
higher cognitive functions. The brain was viewed as a passive interpreter of signals, whereas
the mind was often characterized as a separate entity from the brain.
The Mind-Body Problem
-Rene Descartes: “reflexive” theory of the control of behaviour in which he described the flow
of “animal spirits” through “valvules” within nervous tissue filaments.
Describes how external stimuli would move the skin, releasing the animal spirits and
innervating the muscles.
Account for some involuntary behaviours
-Rene Descartes: voluntary behaviours depended on the interface of the mechanistic body with
a rational, decision-making soul.
Selecting pineal gland based on two factors:
1. Its unitary nature - single structure along the midline of the brain
2. Surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid (believed that cavities of cerebrospinal fluid
were reservoirs for the animal spirits necessary for actions)
-Cerebrospinal fluid – A clear fluid that supports and cleanses the brain
-Rene Descartes: mind and body are separate but interacting entities, referred to as dualism.
-Monism – mind and body are unitary, opposed to dualism.
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Module 1.2: The Recent History of Neuropsychology
Cataloguing the Effects of Lesions
-Jean-Cesar Legallois: lesioning (destroying tissue in) the medulla resulted in the immediate
cessation of breathing. (first widely accepted function to be localized within the brain)
-Dorsal roots – nerves that leave the spinal cord on the back – Sensory functions
-Ventral roots – nerves that leave the spinal cord on the front – Motor functions
-Franz Joseph Gall:
The cortex was functionally localized (27 distinct cognitive abilities that could be
localized on the cortex of the human brain)
The cortex behaved like muscles, in that increased size of an area was associated with
Measurements of the skull and pronouncements on personality became known as
-Strongest critics of phrenology: Marie-Jean-Pierre Flourens
Supported the concept of cortical equipotentiality
The cortex functioned as a whole and that there was no functional specialization
-Friedrich Goltz: only the size of the lesion, not the location of the lesion, affected the
behaviour of the nonhuman animal.
-Gall was right, but for the wrong reasons, whereas Goltz and Flourens used the right
techniques but came to the wrong conclusion.
-Paul Broca: based his conclusions on the observations of an individual with left frontal
Case study of “Tan” – Tan had lost the capacity for speech but retained the ability to
understand language – Aphmia (aphasia), or Broca’s aphasia
Did not study the emotional tone of speech (prosody) and the loss of comprehension of
language associated with the preservation of speech
-Carl Wernicke: when the auditory center (Wernicke’s area) gets damaged, the individual could
still produce speech but would be incapable of using words correctly and be unable to
understand the speech of others. – Wernicke’s aphasia
Total or global aphasia (a complete inability to understand or produce language) would
result from lesions of both Wernicke’s and Broca’s areas.
Historical Methods Revisited
-Trephination - production of a hole in the skull
Advocates for modern trephination (e.g. Amanda Fielding, Bart Holding) suggest taht
trephination is a technique for expanding consciousness as well as an effective technique for
relieving depression, addiction, and neuroses.
Trephination works by increasing the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, which is
reduced by our upright posture and rigid skull.
- Trephination was performed on high priests in the ancient world in order to enhance their
No evidence showed that trephination produces any change in cognitive function,
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