Categories
Psychology

Cognitive Psychology and Neuropsychology

Neuropsychology is a relatively new area of research into understanding how the brain and its various structures and components influence human behavior. Neuropsychology has both clinical and experimental applications, as researchers attempt to determine how various structures of the brain and nervous system are interrelated with behavior, and psychologists in clinical settings apply the understanding of brain functions when treating patients. Neuropsychology employs a number of techniques to determine how the structures of the brain influence behavior. Psychological examinations and tests are offered in conjunction with brain scans and other testing that can see how psychology and behavior are linked with brain structures and processes.

Cognitive psychology takes a different approach to understanding the nature of human behavior and psychology. This field is, in a sense, more practical than neuropsychology, in that it deals directly with mental and psychological processes related to such issues as attention, memory, and problem-solving. The two fields are complementary, however, as the sort of testing that examines such processes can be administered in conjunction with brain scans and other such examinations to see the interrelation between mental processes and bran functions.

Cognitive Psychology and Neuropsychology Subfields

Neuropsychology and Cognitive Psychology are both larger fields of study that each has subfields. The two primary subfields of Neuropsychology, for example, are experimental neuropsychology and clinical neuropsychology. The first is concerned with the laboratory setting, while the second is concerned primarily with applying techniques of neuropsychology in a therapeutic context. Subfields of cognitive psychology explore specific mental processes, such as how individuals think and reason, or how brain function is interrelated with perception and action. In the second subfield, for example, cognitive psychologists might study how a subject processes various stimuli when attempting to perform certain tasks, such as catching a ball or navigating an obstacle course. Such tests can offer insight into how the brain works, which can then be applied to other contexts and situations.

Subfields of Interest

The subfield of cognitive psychology that explores perception and action is an area of compelling interest. Cognitive psychologists who work in this subfield in the experimental or laboratory settings can apply the results of their research to a number of different areas. One area that is of notable interest is in the development of robotics, as cognitive psychologists use the information they gather from studying human perception and action to the development of robotic technology that can perform a number of functions. This technology would be useful in military settings, and also in any settings where humans might be in danger, such as fighting fires or searching for victims after natural disasters.

The application of neuropsychology in a conical setting is useful in situations such as treating veterans who have been injured in combat. Understanding how their brains function after injury may help them recover more fully after returning from duty.

Personality Trait Consistency

Research into personality traits and how consistent they are throughout life have produced conflicting results. So research shows that personality traits remain fairly consistent over a lifetime, while other research shows that traits can change over time. The personality-situation controversy asks whether personality traits are greatly influenced by different situations. In my observation, most people I know well seem to exhibit fairly stable personality traits. My friends who are extroverted tend to be that way in most situations, and those who are shy also tend to be that way. I have noticed that my shy friends will open up more once they are comfortable, but that tendency or trait is also fairly consistent within those individual’s sets of behaviors.

Testing a theory

Although the usual methods of testing a theory are rigorous and involve control groups, variables, and other factors, it is also possible to test a theory informally in everyday life. In the following scenario I did not really consider that I was testing a theory, but that is what I was doing.

I had a roommate who was not particularly good about cleaning up after himself. There were several people living in close quarters, but I was fairly certain that it was this one particular roommate who was the one who was most responsible for some of the messes around the house. Everyone had specific chores we were supposed to do, and we all ended up picking up some of his slack. After discussing the situation with the other roommates, we decided to stop doing any of this particular roommate’s chores to see if he would notice, and would do them on his own. The roommate had claimed that he still did his chores sometimes, even though other people might have also been pitching in on their own. My theory was that he was not doing any of his chores, and I used the chore of the trash as an example.

One of his chores was to change the trash bags inside the house and to take the trash out. No one said anything to him, but the rest of us stopped emptying the inside trash or taking the trash out to the curb. After a week went by, it was clear that the trash was piling up inside the house and that no one had taken the trash out. My theory that this roommate had been neglecting his shores proved to be accurate. This method was informal, but was still similar to what might be done in a clinical setting, simply by posing a hypothesis and then observing the behavior of the subject. If I were to do this again, I might broaden the scope of the observation to include a wider range of behaviors to see if the roommate was doing some of his chores while neglecting others. This might help me determine if it would be helpful to modify the chose duties to better suit his individual personality traits.