Neuropsychology of coordinating movement, smelling and informing

Neuropsychology is a branch of
psychology that is concerned with how the brain and the rest of how the nervous
system influences a person’s cognition and behaviours. Cognition describes our
required skills we need to function properly in our everyday life. This
includes paying attention, what we see or hear and how we express ourselves,
and the way we fit into our surroundings, understanding what other people say
and multitasking. Having a medical illness can effect a persons cognition.
Measuring cognition is very difficult with the naked eye as they can go
unnoticed and be hidden as mood-related issues such as depression or anxiety.
This is why we have neuropsychology assessments, which are various tests that
examine different areas of identified skills by the brain system. This looks at
the behaviour of the brain when functioning.


The brain is produced of three parts:
the brainstem, cerebellum, and cerebrum. The cerebrum is divided into four
lobes;frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital. The cerebrum is the largest
part of the brain and performs functions such as interpreting touch, vision,
hearing, learning and fine control movement. The lobes that are divided in the
cerebrum all have specific functions. The frontal lobe is responsible for
creative thinking, problem solving, judgement and attention. Also its in charge
of coordinating movement, smelling and informing our personality. However if
this part of the brain was damaged there would be repetition of a single
thought, unable to focus on a task and mood swings. The parietal lobe processes
sensory information such as taste, touch and temperature. If the parietal lobe
was damaged a person would have lack of awareness and problems with identifying
objects by touch. The occipital lobe controls and interprets visual stimuli and
if there was damage in this area of the brain then the person would have a
blurry vision and visual illusions. Finally the temporal lobe processes and stores
auditory information. this also informs a range of other processes in the
brain, including speech, hearing and behaviour. There would be difficulty in
understanding language and speaking, and there would be difficulty with memory
if this part of the brain was damaged. The brainstem controls a lot of the ‘automatic’
actions of your body such as breathing and heartbeat, and links the brain to
the spinal cord and the rest of the body. There would be changes in the
breathing and difficulty swallowing if the brainstem was damaged. The
cerebellum controls and coordinates movements of the muscles, like walking or
swinging the arms. Damaging the cerebellum can cause dizziness, difficulty
walking and difficulty coordinating fine movements. Each part of the brain is
in important in serving for its own functions and if one part is damaged it can
effect a person in many ways.This is why we have neuropsychology assessments to
assess and test the brain and its functions.

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One neuropsychological assessment
would be attention. There are three characteristics of attention which
are:being limited, multitasking doesn’t really work because your attention is
limited, being selective, when you filter out other things going on around you
and ,finally, there is already a basic part of the cognitive system from birth.
The prefrontal cortex, directly behind the forehand, is in charge of wilful
concentration; if you are studying for a test or writing the orders come from
there. Whereas if there is a sudden event such as a attack of a tiger or a
scream of a child the parietal cortex is activated. The way we measure
attention is by using various tests such as DPT( dot pro task). This when you
have to find which picture the dot is behind. This test shows how concentrating
on one thing filters out other things, so when people were tested they were
focussing on the dot and they didn’t realise what the picture was showing when
asked.PVT( Physcomarter visulance task). This is when you have to click the
space bar on a your keyboard when the stimulant appears on your screen. This
shows how quick people are to react when shown the stimulant. The reason we
measure attention is because there are cases of children with ADHD who cannot
focus on one thing and finds other distractions, also when tested on patients
with schizophrenia they showed to have an increased brain activity in some
neuroimaging studies but reduced brain activity in others.


Another neuropsychological assessment
would be response inhibition. Response inhibition is ” The suppression of
actions that are inappropriate in a given context and that interfere in a
goal-driven behaviour”. It is called “response inhibition” because your body is
activated to make a response, just like being ready to run toward home plate in
a baseball game. Then, to cancel the response, you must ‘inhibit’ the activity.
This inhibition may be the result of a signal, like a snake in your path, or
may simply happen because you make a decision to stop, without any signal from
the world around you. An interesting question concerns whether or not response
inhibition can be automatic. This is one of the questions scientists are still
trying to understand. The brain regions that are associated with response
inhibition is the subthalamic nucleus which is deep in the centre of the
brain  and if damaged it can cause people
to have uncontrollable movements all the time. When this happens it is called
Hemiballismus. When treating this disease it uses direct electrical simulation
which can change a person’s ability to stop. This is done by implanting an
electrode inside the brain. Damage to an area of the brain called the inferior
frontal gyrus (IFG) (part of the frontal lobe, located underneath your temples)
causes a person to be slower at inhibiting their responses. Another brain
region involved is the caudate nucleus which is found to be involved with goal
driven behaviour as well as response inhibition. We measure response inhibition
by doing tests which are, the stop sign task, go nogo task and the stroop task.
The go nogo task is when you are shown two stimuli and one you should respond
to and the other you should withhold you response. In the stroop task its very
difficult to measure one area of cognition so the test usually measures several
aspects. In the stroop task it has response inhibition as well as attention.
The reason why we study and measure response inhibition is because response
inhibition affects everyone and could help improve the lives of people with
disorders with poor response inhibition. In most research it shows that
children with ADHD made more errors for the simple cognitive tasks and
performed worst on the cognitive and motivation-linked tests than the simple
task. In children with ADHD, response inhibition appears to be a primary
deficit that is observed even when executive function demands of tasks are
minimal. Although increasing working memory demand appears to impede response
inhibition, this effect is similar in ADHD and typically developing
children.This evidence shows that response inhibition has a huge impact on
children with ADHD.


Overall these neuropsychological
assessments I’ve talked about, attention and response inhibition, are used to
examine the different areas of the brain and how that specific brain region
works. This helps neuropsychologists measure a person’s cognition and how it
has been influenced by the brain. Attention is showing how quick someone can
react to something how they can focus on one thing. Response inhibition is your
behaviour when responding and how you inhibit the activity. Different parts of
brain is used when these assessments are examined. Also how these assessments
can affect many people with disorders.