Approach To NeuroPsychology - Juan Moises de la Serna - ebook

To speak of neuropsychology is to speak of one of the branches that has experienced the most growth in the past few years since it makes use of the advances of not only psychology but also those of neuroscience. The field of neuropsychology embraces theoretical aspects as well as those in practice regarding disorders and traumas.   This is a field that is ever more in demand due to the great benefits that it offers to patients. PUBLISHER: TEKTIME

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Dr. Juan Moisés de la Serna

Copyright © 2018

Translated bySusana Hyder


When we speak of neuropsychology we are talking about one of the branches that has experienced the most growth in the past few years since it makes use of the advances of both psychology and neuroscience.

The field of neuropsychology embraces theoretical aspects as well as those in practice regarding disorders and traumas.

This is a field that is ever more in demand due to the great benefits that it offers to patients.

Dedicated to my parents

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Neural Foundations of the Brain

Chapter 2 Psychological Processes and their Function

Chapter 3 Evaluation of Changes in Cognitive Functions

Chapter 4 Psychological Processes Therapy Techniques


About Juan Moisés de la Serna


I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who collaborated with their contributions towards the completion of this book. Especially Dr. David Lavilla Muñoz, Tenured Professor of Digital Communication and New Trends at the European University. Also Dr. Daniela Galindo Bermúdez, President of Hablando con Julis [Talking with Julis]: The solution to communication and learning for people with disabilities.

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© Juan Moisés de la Serna, 2018

“Approach to Neuropsychology”

Written By Juan Moises de la Serna

Copyright © 2018 Juan Moises de la Serna

All rights reserved

Distributed by TeakTime.

Translated by Susana Hyder

Chapter 1 Neural Foundations of the Brain

Neuropsychology arises from the union of two branches of study, psychology and medicine, their subject of study being psychological processes, memory, attention, and language, how these develop with age and whether they are altered by developmental disorders and problems associated with traumas, illness or old age.

Regarding the brain, it is important to understand its neural foundations, especially in regards to the psychological capabilities that neuropsychology deals with.

Anatomically, the cerebral cortex is divided by the central sulcus, which leaves the right hemisphere to one side and the left to the other side. Below both of these is found the diencephalon which are interior structures (the thalamus, subthalamus, hypothalamus, epithalamus, metathalamus and third ventricle) which connects to the brain stem (midbrain, pons, and the medulla oblongata).

On the other hand, the hemispheres may be divided in, frontal lobe (located in the front part of the brain), parietal lobe (behind the frontal lobe, above the temporal lobe and in front of the occipital lobe), temporal lobe (beneath the middle part of the cortex, right behind the temples), and the occipital lobe (situated in the front part of the brain).

The frontal lobe is associated with executive functions, that is, the ability to organize, make decisions and supervise them. It is where we receive “all” information, process it and proceed from there. Injury to this structure causes irregular behavior, lack of sexual inhibition, and increase in risky behavior.

The parietal lobe is the center of sensory information and plays an important role in language. If injured it can cause dyscalculia (problems with math), dyslexia (problems with language), aphasia (problems with pronunciation), apraxia (problems with movement), and agnosia (problems of recognition).

The temporal lobe, involved in the processes of language related to auditory processing also plays a part in the processing of complex images. Furthermore, it plays a part in the processes of long-term memory consolidation. Injury will cause dyslexia, aphasia and verbal memory impairment.

The occipital lobe is the visual processing center. This is where all the information perceived by sight through the optic nerves goes. Injury to this area causes recognition problems and in the processing of captured images.The localization of areas such as attention, language, or memory indicates the existence of different structures involved in each one of them. Therefore, injury to one of the lobes would result in total or partial loss of said function.

Thus rejecting the locationist theory that ruled the study of neuroscience for decades where they tried to assign a predetermined psychological function to each region of the brain, believing that injury to them prevented the person from developing said functions.

Currently it is believed that cognitive functions are distributed throughout the brain and though there are specialized centers for processing predetermined information, whether they are auditory, visual, or propioceptive; all this will later be distributed to form memory traces.

In order to gain insight into knowledge of the brain we will begin with respects to the emotional world which is more complex than at first sight. We will delve into the different elements that make it up. When we speak about emotional components it depends where we put the focus to say they exist more or less. Therefore, in our first approach we will mention three expressions of emotion:

- Neurophysiologic, comprises all the neural pathways and structures involved particularly in each one of the emotions in addition to the vegetative responses such as vasoconstriction, tachycardia, rapid breathing and skin flushing that accompany emotions.

- Behavioral, in which our body becomes a“mirror” of our emotions, exhibiting them in an involuntary manner through facial expressions and the rest of our body, tensing or relaxing certain muscles, which can give away what we are feeling, even when we are trying to hide it. Likewise, this component tells us what we will or will not do by following that emotion, in other words, how those actions will be expressed in our behavior and in the way in which we relate to others.

- Cognitive has more to do with how we perceive our own emotions and those or others and how we interpret them, in other words, the subjective experience of our feelings.

Lack of adequate emotional education very likely may be behind alexithymia, in which a person is incapable of properly identifying or interpreting their own feelings and those of others.

MacLean (1949) suggested the evolution of the brain in three great stages: reptilian, paleomammalian, and neomammalian; the second one (where the limbic system is located) being the one responsible for emotional processing, which indicates that the emotional system is anterior and would justify its qualities in the processing of affective stimuli.

Regarding the neural network of emotional activity, the areas that are the most involved in the process of emotions are the subcortical (amygdala and basal ganglia) and some cortical areas, primarily the prefrontal cortex, the temporal cortex and the cingulate.

In terms of the location of the processing of positive stimuli versus negative, there has not yet been a consensus. Thus, some authors defend that hemispheric activation takes place equally when exposed to positive and negative stimuli.

Davidson (1984) proposed a model of hemispheric distribution for affective stimuli processing in which the right temporal lobe would process the negative stimuli, while the left would process the positive.

Completing the aforementioned, Heller (1993) postulated the existence of a wider area in the brain (parietotemporal) as the one responsible for analyzing the activating component (arousal) of the stimuli. Thus, the frontal anterior zones would be involved in the processing of valence (positive, negative, neutral) and the emotional experience whereas the posterior zones would process the arousal component and the perceptual aspects of emotions.

The existence of the emotional-perceptual-memory circuit in the human brain is widely agreed on, in which the amygdala plays a crucial role in recording the occurrences of emotional stimuli.

Hence, information with emotional content has significantly more probability to be stored and recovered than information with neutral content.

The extensive connection between the amygdala and the extrastriate visual regions and the hippocampus allows the amygdala to modulate its behavior and facilitate the perceptive and mnesic functions in those areas. These results have been confirmed in patients with injury to the amygdala.

However, there is evidence to indicate that emotional learning associated with the amygdala is temporarily limited and that the subsequent effects on memory may be attributed to the involvement of other regions of the brain such as the orbitofrontal cortex.

We are looking at a circuit of emotional processing that contrasts with the specific cognitive processing pathway.