Chapter 1: Introduction to Neuropsychology
Module 1.1 – Introduction to Neuropsychology
What is Neuropsychology?
• Psychology is study of behaviour. Psychology is an attempt to describe, explain
and predict behaviour. Psychology is also study of how to change behaviour.
• Neuropsychology is speciality w/in larger field of psychology. Neuropsychology
is study of relation between behaviour and activity of the brain.
• Two types of Neuropsychology: Clinical Neuropsychology and experimental
• Clinical Neuropsychology is the branch of Neuropsychology concerned w/
psychological assessment, management, and rehabilitation of neurological disease
• Experimental Neuropsychology focuses on how human behaviour arises brain
activity including explaining how patterns of behavioural impairments be
explained in terms of disruptions to damaged neural components. Also referred to
as cognitive Neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience.
Heart, Mind, and Brain: The Early History of Neuropsychology
• Important study history of any discipline because provides important insights into
development of science and because gives us information about what is left to
• Studying history of Neuropsychology also important because illustrates many
instances w/in discipline which researchers were wrong about nature of brain-
• Many unexpected features of nervous system, often many of most firmly held
views known to be false.
• Human thoughts and behaviours were not always attributed to brain.
• Empedocles believed heart was source of human behaviour, position that became
known as cardiac or cardiocentric hypothesis.
• Argued by Hippocrates and Galen, brain is responsible for these functions, view
that is referred as cephalocentric hypothesis or brain hypothesis.
• Symbols of cardiac hypothesis perspective still common throughout our culture.
• Ancient skulls been surgically excised or cut open, presumably for therapeutic
• Ancient people appreciated importance of brain in behaviour and perhaps some
The Mind-Body Problem
• Rene Descartes presented “reflexive” theory of control of behaviour which he
described flow of “animal spirits” through “valvules” w/in nervous tissue
filaments. Theory accounted reflexive behaviours by describing how external
stimuli would move skin, in turn moving filaments, releasing animal spirits and innervating muscles. Theory accounted for some involuntary behaviors but could
not account for voluntary behaviour.
• Descartes believed voluntary behaviours depended on interface of mechanistic
body with rational, decision-making soul. Location identified for this interaction
was pineal gland. Chose the pineal gland on basis of its unitary nature.
• Pineal gland surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid – clear fluid that supports and
cleanses the brain.
• Descartes believed cavities of cerebrospinal fluid were reservoirs for animal
spirits necessary. Voluntary action produced small movements of pineal gland,
resulting in release of animal spirits throughout the body and producing
movement of body.
• Descartes relied heavily on hydraulics.
• Current analogies of brain function resemble current technologies.
• When living organism placed in identical situation multiple times, its behaviour in
the situations often variable.
• Complex biological systems are considerably less predictable.
• Descartes proposed mind and body are separate but interacting entities, a position
referred to as dualism.
• Monism positions that mind and body are unitary.
Module 1.2 – The Recent History of Neuropsychology
The Recent History of Neuropsychology
• Neuropsychology draws from number of established disciplines, including
anthropology, biology, physiology and neurology.
Cataloging the Effects of Lesions
• Legallois who discovered that lesioning (destroying tissue in) the medulla
resulted the immediate cessation of breathing. The discovery of respiratory center
w/in medulla was first widely accepted function localized w/in the brain.
• Bell and Magendie observed the dorsal roots (nerves that leave spinal cord on
back of spinal cord) had sensory functions, whereas ventral roots ( nerves that
leave spinal cord on front) responsible motor functions.
• Franz Joseph Gall and colleague Johann Spurzheim suggested cortex functionally
localized. Gall stated there were twenty-seven distinct genitive abilities
(faculties) that could be localized on cortex of human brain. Gall also suggested
that cognitive skills mediated by separate areas of brain. Gall believed cortex
behaved like muscles in that increased size of an area associated w/ increased
• Increased size of cortical area result in deformation of skull, or bump, which
could empirically measured using technique called cranioscopy. Measurements
of skull and pronouncements on personality known as phrenology.
• Strongest critics of phrenology Marie-Jean-Pierre-Flourens. Flouren’s performed
numerous studies w/ nonhuman animals using lesioning techniques to study
corresponding effects on behaviour. Some of his contributions were observations that cerebellum responsible for coordinated movement and medulla performed
vital functions for organism.
• Flourens observed sometimes following lesions, functions maybe restored.
Flourens believed once one function recovered, all functions had recovered.
Flourens proposed cortex functioned as whole and was no functional
specialization w/in cortex (position known as equipotentiality).
• Goltz performed experiments involving removal of cortex in dogs and cats and
observed only size of lesion, not location of lesion, affected behaviour of
nonhuman animals. Therefore, concluding cortex could not be specialized for
specific cognitive functions.
• David Ferrier suggest that behavioural observations of decorticate dogs and
monkey inconsistent w/ position of cortical equipotentiality. Ferrir suggested
results of lesions consistent w/ localization of sensory and motor functions w/in
discrete portion of cortex.
• Gutsav Fritsch and Eduard Hitzig demonstrated frontal cortex of dog essential for
production of normal movement.
• First higher cognitive function fully localized was language. Paul Broca first gain
widespread acceptance for role of frontal cortex in production of speech. Broca
circumscribed lesion of left frontal lobe resulted individual incapable of
productive speech but retained ability understand language. Broca referred to this
phenomenon as aphemia, later became to be known as aphasia or Broca’s
• Two components of speech not studied by Broca were emotional tone of speech
(prosody) and loss of comprehension of language associated w/ preservation of
• Hughlings-Jacksons observation that speech complex process that involves
linguistic ability as well as complex motor skills. He also suggested there could
be dissociations between semantic content of language (meaning) and emotional
• Wernicke suggested there was an auditory centers in temporal lobes when
damaged result individual who produce speech but not capable of using words
correctly and be unable understand speech of others. This type of aphasia called
Wernicke’s aphasia. Also suggested total or global aphasia (complete inability
to understand or produce language) result from lesions of both Wernicke’s and
Focus on the Neuron
• Working unit of brain is neuron.
• Three main hurdles that had overcome to study cellular consitituents of brain:
size of cells, texture of brain, and lack of pigmentation in much of brain.
• Some type of magnification must be used to observe neurons.
• Theordore Schwann proposed all living tissue composed of units called cells and
other researches began to study neurons. • To study neurons