Neuropsychology is at the crossroads of psychology and neurology. Neuropsychologists study the manner in which the different regions of the brain “drive” or affect our behaviours.
This specialisation, which forms an integral part of the psychologist’s job description, is based on the connection the practitioner tries to draw between the structure and the functioning of the brain and the behaviours and psychological functioning of the patient. Neuropsychologists work with patients (children and adults) who suffer from pathologies or brain damage, for example after a stroke, brain trauma, a neurodegenerative disease (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease), encephalitis or meningitis, a brain tumour, etc. They also take care of patients whose issues are not directly associated with a disease of the central nervous system: e.g. learning disorders, developmental disorders, attention-deficit disorders, burnouts and mental exhaustion, psychopathological disorders, etc.
Faced with these problems, neuropsychologists are not only trained to provide a diagnosis, but also to monitor the evolution of the condition. For this purpose, the interventions available to the neuropsychologist range from the clinical interview to cognitive testing. A neuropsychologist will endeavour to identify cognitive disorders, and determine whether the patient is prone to difficulties relating to language, memory, concentration, or reasoning. Once the diagnosis is achieved, the healthcare professional can establish causal relations between the disorders and their origin (brain damage or other), assess the patient’s capacity for autonomy, establish a prognosis, or implement a re-education programme.
These practitioners also play an important role for the relatives of the patient. They explain the illness and its consequences. They work on finding solutions to the problems that arise.