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A neuropsychologist is a psychologist who specializes in studying brain behavior relationships. Neuropsychologists have extensive training
in the anatomy, physiology, and pathology of the nervous system. Some neuropsychologists specialize in research while other
neuropsychologists specialize in evaluating and treating people who are thought to have something wrong with the way in which their nervous
system is functioning.
Neuropsychologists study brain behavior relationships under very specific circumstances which are both controlled and standardized. As a
general rule, this means using tests which have been validated and which have been shown to have acceptable levels of sensitivity and
specificity. This means the test can measure the thing it is trying to measure even when the thing it is trying to measure is only present in small
amounts and it also means the test can distinguish the thing it is trying to measure from other things.
If we wish to measure a thing "A" then the test has to be able to measure "A" even when very little of "A" is present; this is sensitivity.
Specificity means when we measure "A" with our test, we know that the test does not measure "B", "C," or "D."
Clinical neuropsychologists evaluate patients using one of three general methods. The first method is to use an assessment technique in which
a fixed battery of tests is given and in which we only want to know what functions are impaired and what functions are not impaired.
The most commonly used representative of this type of test is the Halstead - Reitan Neuropsychological Battery. The second method is to use
an assessment technique in which a fixed battery of tests is given but in this method there is a hierarchical each subtest so that if a function is
impaired, the level at which it is impaired can be determined. The most common representative of this type of test is the Luria - Nebraska.
Common to both of these tests is a long history of research studies examining the ability of the two batteries to measure dysfunction of the
brain and to accurately identify why that dysfunction is occurring.
The third method used by neuropsychologists is the flexible battery approach. By definition, the flexible approach is not a battery because
when one uses this approach one gives a group of tests allegedly picked for just the particular patient. This means that the particular group of
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