One of the branches of cognitive psychology is called cognitive neuropsychology. It is a specialized area of study focusing on the brain and how its structure and the functions are associated with psychological processes. Within this discipline, analysis is carried out on how mental processes of the brain are dependent on cognitive skills to keep and create new memories, be familiar with people and objects, produce language and solve problems. Professional education is required to become eligible for a career as a cognitive neuropsychologist. Those who wish to opt for such a career should follow a series of essential academic steps to meet the requirements.
Cognitive neuropsychologists work to understand the brain’s functioning to solve issues of cognitive affects that could be the actual cause of neurological illness, brain injury or other cognitive functioning. Basically their work is research-based and they do not provide care for, treat or diagnose patients. The research is based on evidence gleaned from, typically, patients with brain damage. They research whether, for example, various areas of the brain may have deficiencies while others may reveal double dissociations. By exploring these areas, psychologists are able to comprehend the highly specialized areas of the brain.
Cognitive neuropsychologists perform experiments on neurologically-intact children or adults as well as animals to figure out human cognitive representations and processes. The techniques and technologies used in measuring psychological performance or brain function include electrophysiology, neuro-imaging and neuropsychological tests. Other cognitive tests include PET scans, EEGs and fMRI.
This is a two-year program which involves courses on cognition as well as on neuroscientific research skills. The degree mainly focuses on seminars, internship, elective courses and a thesis. Students learn skills that will be required during professional life. The program is well known for the study of cognitive psychology methods and research on clinical cases which students will utilize in real-life conditions through neuropsychological tests and behavioral measurements. Courses include: medical neuroscience and neuroanatomy, neuropsychology of cognitive dysfunctioning, thinking and deciding, neural models of cognitive processes, educational neuropsychology, and brain imaging.
A Ph.D. program in neurological sciences allows students to study the human mind and brain. The course work focuses on cognitive psychology and neuropsychology, generative linguistics and computational methods of cognition. Other topics researched are computational analysis, empirical neuroscience, brain imaging, linguistic analysis and empirical psychology. Apart from this, students undergo regular seminars and integrative courses in order to gain absolute knowledge of cognitive sciences theories.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there were 100,850 jobs available in 2011. Popular career specialties are cognitive neuropsychologist, developmental cognitive neuropsychologist, school neuropsychology consultant, university teaching and research, forensic neuropsychologist, dementia neuropsychologist, and neuropsychology researcher for public and private organizations.
In 2012 it was reported that cognitive neuropsychology professionals had an average annual salary of $75,000.