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Neuropsychologists

Explore the field of neuropsychology

Traveling the labyrinth of the brain requires a map, a map that shows travelers the areas relegated to memory storage, activity planning, attention (see Attention), visual and auditory regions, and the control centers for language, perception, sensory and motor attributes.

Without a map, those treating individuals who have suffered brain damage or have brain deficits would be without help. Rehabilitation for strokes and traumatic brain disorders wouldn’t exist. Finding medications to treat brain diseases would be futile. Help for children and adults with developmental disorders wouldn’t exist. Research into the early detection of different forms of dementia would languish.

The work of neuropsychologists is that of understanding brain-behavior relationships; they’re not only mapmakers, but tour guides to the brain as well. Using empirically based studies of the brain, neuropsychologists prove the integral, interrelated link between cognition and physiology, and how an impairment in physiology directly relates to specific cognitive and behavioral outcomes.

Thanks to neuropsychologists, those in the healthcare field understand how, why, and to what extent brain dysfunction occurs, and what can be done to ameliorate and treat a wide range of brain diseases and disorders.

For those pursuing a career as a neuropsychologist, they generally choose between two broad categories of specialty: clinical neuropsychology; and cognitive neuropsychology. Within each specialty, however, neuropsychologists specialize further. For example, a clinical neuropsychologist can specialize in pediatric clinical neuropsychology, or become a clinical neuropsychologist working with stroke and aphasic disorders.

Similarly, those who become cognitive neuropsychologists – a research specialty – can focus their research in one area, such as how a stroke affects the ability of adults to speak grammatically correct sentences, or how brain tumors in a specific region of the brain affect memory.

The following summarizes each career in neuropsychology:

Clinical neuropsychologists

Clinical neuropsychologists are the practitioners of brain science. They administer neuropsychological assessments to determine the extent and prognosis of individuals with brain dysfunctions. In clinical settings, they work with other healthcare practitioners diagnosing and planning rehabilitation treatments for those with brain damage, dysfunction, and disease.

As consultants to schools, clinical neuropsychologists advise staff and parents on ways to teach, mentor and nurture those with a range of developmental and neurological disorders.

Clinical neuropsychologists generally specialize in working either with children and adolescents, or with adults.

They diagnose and treat numerous conditions and injuries, but the following are some of the more common disorders.

For clinicians working with children and teens, they treat the following:

  • Spinal bifida and Hydrocephalus
  • Pediatric epilepsy
  • Brain tumors
  • Autistic disorder
  • Non-autistic pervasive developmental disorders
  • Low birth weight
  • ADHD
  • Nonverbal learning disorder
  • Mental retardation
  • Down syndrome
  • Fragile X syndrome
  • Cerebral palsy

For clinicians who work with adults, they often treat the following:

  • Stroke and aphasic disorders
  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Traumatic brain disorder
  • Brain tumors
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Effects of substance abuse
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Lupus erythematosis
  • Sports-related injuries
  • Aging
  • Amnesia
  • Depression

(For more information, see clinical neuropsychology.)

Cognitive neuropsychologists

Cognitive neuropsychologists conduct the empirical studies on the brain that clinical neuropsychologists and other healthcare providers use to treat those suffering with brain disorders. Their research, which focuses on abnormal brain-behavior disorders, complements the work of cognitive psychologists who study normal brain functioning. They work in research laboratories for the government, universities, or for private organizations. (For more information, see cognitive neuropsychology.)

Cognitive neuropsychologists are the dedicated cartographers or mapmakers of the brain. By observing patients with brain and neurological disorders, forming hypotheses and theories about ensuing brain dysfunctions, and testing their theories with technological tools and neuropsychological assessments and tests, these psychologists come up with the topography of the brain’s structures and the functioning of neural processes.

The studies conducted by cognitive neuropsychologists take place with real “patients” who have suffered some type of brain dysfunction, but these psychologists don’t “diagnose, treat, and/or prescribe interventions” for patients. Their main goal is to add to the growing body of brain research.

Understanding the brain

Both clinical and cognitive neuropsychologists use a combination of tools and technologies.

Neuroimaging technologies provide brain scans or real-time images of living human brains. Clinical neuropsychologists use these technologies to diagnose brain dysfunctions or diseases, such as brain tumors or different forms of dementia.

Cognitive neuropsychologists also use these technologies to study the brain as it performs certain tasks, giving these researchers a “functional” view of what is occurring or not occurring in terms of information processing. (For more information, see neuroimaging.)

Neuropsychological assessments are another tool used by neuropsychologists to help diagnose brain disorders, and predict the course of recovery. Assessments are used mainly in clinical settings, however, cognitive neuropsychologists also employ this tool when the results from the assessments would add to and benefit their research. (For more information, see neuropsychological assessments and tests.)

If you are interested in becoming a neuropsychologist, in diagnosing and treating individuals suffering from brain dysfunctions, or in conducting brain research, contact schools offering degrees in psychology. Most positions in this field require a Ph.D.

Additionally, most clinical neuropsychologists must have certification by the American board of Clinical Neuropsychology (ABCN) or the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology (AACN).

In addition, many clinical positions also require licensing. To learn more about the licensing requirements for a psychology career at Psychology Career Licensure.

Psychology Schools & Colleges
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4 Programs in
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  • Among the top 15% of military-friendly colleges, universities, & trade schools in the nation. 
  • A Service Members Opportunities College.
  • Accepts employer tuition assistance. 
  • Recognized by The Princeton Review Guide to 311 Green Colleges as one of 311 institutions of higher education that demonstrates notable commitments to sustainability.  
  • Accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Inc. (NEASC).
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  • Among the top 15% of military-friendly colleges, universities, & trade schools in the nation. 
  • A Service Members Opportunities College.
  • Accepts employer tuition assistance. 
  • Recognized by The Princeton Review Guide to 311 Green Colleges as one of 311 institutions of higher education that demonstrates notable commitments to sustainability.  
  • Accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Inc. (NEASC).
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  • Good for Working Adults
  • Online Programs
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
2 Programs in
Online

LeTourneau University is an interdenominational Christ-centered university offering more than 80 programs that prepare students for success in areas including the arts and sciences, aviation, business, education and engineering.

LeTourneau University is an interdenominational Christ-centered university offering more than 80 programs that prepare students for success in areas including the arts and sciences, aviation, business, education and engineering.

  • Online Programs
5 Programs in
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  • Ranked one of the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2014 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Offers a no-obligation, 3-week trial period where students may determine if the university is right for them before they commit to it.
  • Strives to be a student’s partner in lifelong learning; committed to helping them achieve their goals.
  • Serves students of all ages, from first-graders learning to read to professionals seeking postgraduate training.
  • Provides career-oriented diploma through master’s programs in fields such as healthcare, business, legal and paralegal services, information technology, criminal justice and design.
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  • Ranked one of the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2014 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Offers a no-obligation, 3-week trial period where students may determine if the university is right for them before they commit to it.
  • Strives to be a student’s partner in lifelong learning; committed to helping them achieve their goals.
  • Serves students of all ages, from first-graders learning to read to professionals seeking postgraduate training.
  • Provides career-oriented diploma through master’s programs in fields such as healthcare, business, legal and paralegal services, information technology, criminal justice and design.
Show more [+]
5 Programs in
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  • 95% alumni satisfaction rate.
  • Currently holds more than 500 professional alliances, including 19 of the top Fortune 100 companies.
  • Potential students may preview a free, one-week mini course to get an accurate impression of the student experience.
  • Courses are taught by expert faculty, with 86% of professors possessing a doctoral degree.
  • Offers credit for prior experience and learning, as well as scholarships, accelerated programs, and several other ways to help reduce tuition costs.
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  • 95% alumni satisfaction rate.
  • Currently holds more than 500 professional alliances, including 19 of the top Fortune 100 companies.
  • Potential students may preview a free, one-week mini course to get an accurate impression of the student experience.
  • Courses are taught by expert faculty, with 86% of professors possessing a doctoral degree.
  • Offers credit for prior experience and learning, as well as scholarships, accelerated programs, and several other ways to help reduce tuition costs.
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  • Online Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
2 Programs in
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  • Average class size is 25, allowing for more one-on-one time with instructors.
  • Has a 97% employment rate among available graduates.
  • All  graduates receive Lifetime Employment  Assistance—free and forever.
  • Michigan's largest independent college.
  • Most instructors are working professionals in the fields they teach.
  • Programs are continuously updated to ensure classes are career-relevant and in sync with what's needed in the industry
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  • Average class size is 25, allowing for more one-on-one time with instructors.
  • Has a 97% employment rate among available graduates.
  • All  graduates receive Lifetime Employment  Assistance—free and forever.
  • Michigan's largest independent college.
  • Most instructors are working professionals in the fields they teach.
  • Programs are continuously updated to ensure classes are career-relevant and in sync with what's needed in the industry
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  • Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Programs
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
5 Programs in
Campus
  • Phoenix Career Services™ help students find careers that match their interests & map out a personalized career plan.
  • Mentorships & networking opportunities available through Alumni Association of 800,000+ graduates.
  • Flexible start date and class schedules.
  • 100+ locations and online options.
  • Offers special military rates and special advisors who have a military background.
  • Students can earn credits for applicable military training and education.
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  • Phoenix Career Services™ help students find careers that match their interests & map out a personalized career plan.
  • Mentorships & networking opportunities available through Alumni Association of 800,000+ graduates.
  • Flexible start date and class schedules.
  • 100+ locations and online options.
  • Offers special military rates and special advisors who have a military background.
  • Students can earn credits for applicable military training and education.
Show more [+]
  • Good for Working Adults
  • Online Programs
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
2 Programs in
Online
  • A member of The Russell Group of 24 UK research-led universities.
  • Ranked in the top 1% of higher education institutions worldwide.
  • Teaches students are from over 160 countries worldwide.
  • Holds full accreditation with degrees widely recognized internationally.
  • Degrees pursued online will look the same as degrees pursued on campus.
  • Its Royal Charter has allowed it to independently award bachelors, masters, and doctorate degrees since 1903.
  • Over 6,000 international students on campus.
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  • A member of The Russell Group of 24 UK research-led universities.
  • Ranked in the top 1% of higher education institutions worldwide.
  • Teaches students are from over 160 countries worldwide.
  • Holds full accreditation with degrees widely recognized internationally.
  • Degrees pursued online will look the same as degrees pursued on campus.
  • Its Royal Charter has allowed it to independently award bachelors, masters, and doctorate degrees since 1903.
  • Over 6,000 international students on campus.
Show more [+]
  • Online Programs
5 Programs in
Campus
  • Ranked #8 in the 2013 Best Online Undergrad Programs by U.S. News & World Report.
  • 70% graduation rate– significantly higher than the national average of 59%. 
  • Ranked #2 by U.S. News & World Report for Best Online Bachelor's Programs for Veterans. 
  • Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), one of six regional accrediting associations that accredit public and private colleges and universities in the United States.  
  • Has a network of 26 campuses.
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  • Ranked #8 in the 2013 Best Online Undergrad Programs by U.S. News & World Report.
  • 70% graduation rate– significantly higher than the national average of 59%. 
  • Ranked #2 by U.S. News & World Report for Best Online Bachelor's Programs for Veterans. 
  • Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), one of six regional accrediting associations that accredit public and private colleges and universities in the United States.  
  • Has a network of 26 campuses.
Show more [+]
  • Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Programs in
Online
  • Online MBA program ranked 6th in the USA by CEO magazine. 
  • In a university-sponsored survey, 4 out of 5 alumni reported being satisfied with their experience.
  • #1 Online School for military veterans according to Military Times.
  • 75,000+ graduates across all industries offer extensive networking opportunities. 
  • My Unique Student Experience (M.U.S.E.) lets students watch, view, read, or hear content. 
  • Smartphone app available for on-the-go learning. 
Show more [+]
  • Online MBA program ranked 6th in the USA by CEO magazine. 
  • In a university-sponsored survey, 4 out of 5 alumni reported being satisfied with their experience.
  • #1 Online School for military veterans according to Military Times.
  • 75,000+ graduates across all industries offer extensive networking opportunities. 
  • My Unique Student Experience (M.U.S.E.) lets students watch, view, read, or hear content. 
  • Smartphone app available for on-the-go learning. 
Show more [+]
  • Good for Working Adults
  • Online Programs
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Programs in
Online
  • Ranked #23 in National Universities by U.S. News & World Report in 2014.
  • One of the world’s leading private research universities.
  • Its student-faculty ratio is 9:1, and 56.8% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
  • The average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 96.8 percent.
  • Dedicated to a strong tradition of integrating liberal and professional education since 1880.
  • Faculty includes National Academy members, Nobel Laureates, MacArthur Fellows, and more.
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  • Ranked #23 in National Universities by U.S. News & World Report in 2014.
  • One of the world’s leading private research universities.
  • Its student-faculty ratio is 9:1, and 56.8% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
  • The average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 96.8 percent.
  • Dedicated to a strong tradition of integrating liberal and professional education since 1880.
  • Faculty includes National Academy members, Nobel Laureates, MacArthur Fellows, and more.
Show more [+]
  • Online Programs