What is Neuropsychology?
Although such theories have contributed to the growth of psychology as an individual field, it has also created the need for more advanced studies into the complex chemical make-up and functioning of the human brain. Since the rise in imaging technology, new fields have grown to use better technology in the study of these phenomena.
The most common methods for learning about the relationship between the brain, behavior, and emotion is through direct monitoring of the brain’s activity. Imaging of the brain through the use of CAT scans, MRIs, fMRIs, or PET scans allows neuropsychologists to monitor brain activity during certain tasks in an effort to better explain the functions of each part of the brain. Having a patient watch a sad movie and recording brain activity throughout is an example of how an experimenter would determine if the individual was experiencing normal emotional response.
Another example could be monitoring the brain’s response to a person engaging in simple mathematics activities. Experiments of this nature all professionals in this field to draw conclusions or create theories based on the findings of their studies. In people that suffer from mental illness or brain malfunctions, neuropsychologists can monitor brain activity and compare results to findings from a normal functioning brain.
Differences between the two can help neuropsychologists determine where the malfunction is located, the results of the malformation or injury, and how this can affect others. Through studies with the brain and imagery, this field can help determine how damage or malformation of certain parts of the brain can lead to maladaptive behaviors, difficulty with normal functioning, or an over expression/lack of expression of emotion. In addition to identifying these changes, neuropsychologists can also work towards finding corrective mediums for these issues, such as surgeries, medication, or various therapies.
Bachelor’s Degree in Neuropsychology
A bachelor’s degree program is the first step to being a part of this career field. At this point, you may find that a degree in psychology is most preferred, unless of course the university you choose has an undergraduate neuropsychology option. Neuroscience and biology are also fields that you could choose for this program, as long as the degree program is related and relevant to the field you will be working in. When choosing a university, be sure to verify that the university of choice is accredited so that you can successfully obtain licensure in the future.
Master’s in Neuropsychology Degree
Some students choose to pursue a master’s program prior to enrolling in doctoral studies. The master’s program is seen generally as a bridge between the bachelor’s and doctoral program, but some doctoral programs do allow entry from the bachelor’s level. Whether or not you choose to take this path is up to you, but it is important to research the requirements of your chosen doctoral program prior to entry.
Neuropsychology Doctoral Degree
Obtaining a doctorate degree provides expertise in your field and sets you on path for licensure. You may find that you are best suited for a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology with focus in Neuropsychology, a Doctorate in Neuropsychology, or a Doctorate in Clinical Neuropsychology. Depending on the university that you choose for you program, there may be different variations of this degree for you to choose from. During this program, you will be expected to both apply your knowledge through research projects as well as in a real-life setting.
Testing, Experience, and Licensure
Once you have completed your final degree program, you are ready to take the Examination of Professional Practice of Psychology, gain experience, and apply for licensure. The EPPP is an exam that tests your skills in the practice of psychology and is required for licensure in all states. Most states also require that you engage in 1-2 years of supervised experience in the field prior to becoming fully licensed. Once you have finished these two steps, you may submit your application for licensure through your state’s board and await your credentials.
Board Certification for Clinical Neuropsychology
Board certification can be considered the icing on the cake for neuropsychology professionals. You are not required to obtain it, but it adds a certain level of respect to your resume. The American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology provides licensees with the opportunity to become certified through testing and a board vote. Having board certification can potentially help you network with other professionals in your field and prove your expertise in the field of neuropsychology as whole.
Common Neuropsychology Courses
During neuropsychology degree programs, you may be expected to take part in studies that focus on varying aspects of behavior and emotion from different perspectives. As a professional in the field, you may come in contact with a wide range of patients of different age ranges, different cultures, and various cognitive levels of ability. The course work for this degree program is designed to give you a broad understanding of neuropsychology that is applicable to all people.
Understanding the foundations of behavior and emotion can provide you with a solid degree program that can make a difference in the lives of those you come in contact with. If you are interested in what your degree program could consist of, our experts have pulled some of the common courses for you to read on. These courses represent some of the topics you may find yourself involved with while engaged in a PhD or Doctoral program in Neuropsychology.
Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory and Perception
This course takes a look into the brain’s role in memory and perception. Students may learn how to identify normal and abnormal responses, as well as how these abilities change throughout the lifespan.
Students taking this course will be provided with an overview of the functions of the central nervous system. Students will also gain insight into how to use quantitative and qualitative analysis during tests that are of standardized and experimental natures.
Child Clinical Neuropsychology
This course teaches students about the various theoretical issues that are specific to children. Brain development, diagnostics, assessment, and treatment are discussed in detail, as well as the differences between adult and child formation of mental illness and assessment.
Behavioral and Biological Aspects of Stress and Trauma
Students may learn to identify the psychological and biological responses to trauma and stress. Learning how to differentiate between individuals and social influences is also discussed, providing students with the diagnostic skills required for this aspect of behavior.
Estimated Neuropsychology Salary
Having a profound interest in the brain and how it affects people can evolve into a passion for neuropsychology. If you find yourself indulging in this field, you may be a great fit. Neuropsychologists provide individuals and society with a service that goes beyond what regular medicine can provide. Since this is a relatively new field in comparison to other sciences, it is normal to consider its worth and ability to withstand the test of time prior to enrolling. The human brain continues to be most undiscovered and an anomaly to doctors and psychologists throughout the country.
As a professional in this field, you could find yourself working hard to determine the function of different parts of the brain for educational institutions, medical facilities, or even the government. In some areas, neuropsychologists may work with patients to determine whether or not brain functioning is normal in comparison to standard readings. There are a multitude of possibilities in this field – each with its own unique contribution to society. Professionals in the field can earn around $75,230 per year, depending on their specialty and area of employment (BLS; 2015).
Estimated Job Growth
The need for better understanding of the brain is apparent, which marks the need for more neuropsychologists in the field. This field is expected to grow by 19% over the next decade, making it a great place to start a career (BLS; 2015). In comparison to other fields, the estimated growth for this profession is faster than average (BLS; 2015). In terms of pay, your salary can vary significantly depending on whether you work in research, clinical applications, or in more populated areas.
If you are seeking a career field that is innovative and constantly searching for answers about society’s unanswered questions about behavior and individual emotion, neuropsychology is a great place to settle into. As neuropsychology provides more insight into the brain’s influence on personal behavior, there may be more options for treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention in the future. Getting into a degree program is your first step to being a part of this innovative and exciting field.