Experimental Neuropsychology

Experimental neuropsychology focuses on answering theoretical questions rather than solving clinical or practical ones. Because of the invasive nature of these questions, experimental neuropsychologists often use animals rather than humans in their research. Typically, animals are used in the initial stages of a line of research. After the research procedure has been proved to be safe and effective, however, it is then confirmed on a human sample. Experimental neuropsychologists have shed light on a number of cognitive functions and the parts of the brain involved in those functions.

The methods that experimental neuropsychologists use to study cognitive abilities in humans can be quite creative. The tachistoscope is a device that projects a visual image to either the right or the left half of the visual field very quickly, so that the right or left hemisphere of the brain has preferential access to the visual image. Thus, the importance of the left or right hemisphere of the brain in a given task can be identified.

While the daily routines of clinical and experimental neuropsychologists are quite different, their work can be considerably intertwined. For exam ple, the insights of experimental neuropsychologists often improve clinicians' ability to assess and treat individuals with neurological impairment. Similarly, clinicians' descriptions of interesting patients can often open the road for further theoretical investigation by experimental neuropsycholo-gists.

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