Ennio De Renzi

Features and problems of neuropsychology

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Neuropsychology aims to investigate the effects of brain lesions on higher nervous functions by means of the experimental psychology methods. The following features differentiate it from the traditional clinical approach: 1) patients are selected not because they show impairment of higher nervous functions, but because they have a cerebral lesion; 2) the presence of a control group, free from lesions susceptible to produce the symptomatology under study, is mandatory; 3) patients’ performance is evaluated by standardized testing techniques, which yield a quantitative score; 4) all comparisons should be carried out by statistical analysis. This method implies obvious advantages and some difficulties, which are discussed. Some findings, obtained in recent neuropsychological investigations, are given as an example of the fruitfulness of this approach.


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