Neuropsychology Track & Minor

Neuropsychology is the branch of psychology dedicated to understanding causes, assessment, and treatment of psychological disorders attributable to brain injury or disease. Neuropsychological science is informed by principles, theories, and findings from multiple scientific disciplines, including cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, rehabilitation psychology, and gerontology. In practice, clinical neuropsychologists collaborate with professionals from medical, social service, and educational backgrounds. As such, advanced education in neuropsychology is not only relevant to students of clinical psychology, but also individuals pursuing education in complementary research and applied fields.

The Psychology Department’s training in neuropsychology has two major emphases: (1) basic research skills, particularly those drawing upon cognitive science and neuroscience models and methodologies; and (2) broad-based clinical skills in general clinical psychology, particularly those related to intervention practice and evaluation. Our training encourages students to develop additional specialized research and clinical expertise (e.g., gerontology, psychophysiology, empirically-validated interventions, brain-imaging, etc.) that will make them more broadly competent and more competitive in the job market.

The Neuropsychology Track consists of a three-course didactic sequence (504A, 504B, and 502) and two clinical components (Practicum and Externship). The Neuropsychology Track is designed for individuals interested in obtaining specialization in neuropsychology as part of a PhD in clinical psychology. The didactic and clinical requirements are explained below in greater detail.

The Neuropsychology Minor only consists of a three-course didactic requirement (there is no clinical component to the minor). Whereas 504A and 504B are required courses, students can individualize the minor by selecting a third course from several options that are offered through the psychology department (detailed below). The Neuropsychology Minor is ideal for individuals who desire advanced education in neuropsychology to supplement their graduate training and research.

Neuropsychology Track Requirements:

1. Three-Course Didactic Sequence. Principles and core topics in human neuropsychology are covered in depth through the following courses.

Human Brain-Behavior Relationships (504A). This course covers human brain functions in relation to intelligence, language, memory, judgment, reasoning, visual-spatial abilities, and emotion. It also covers methods of examining human brain function in relation to individual differences in both normal and brain-damaged persons. The interaction of individual differences in education, age, culture, and ethnicity with brain damage and disease is examined throughout the course.

Clinical Neuropsychology: Dementias (504B). This course examines clinical applications of the knowledge base covered in 504A, and the assessment of cognitive and affective sequelae of human central nervous system disease/damage. Emphasis is placed on disorders associated with aging, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, frontotemporal, and other dementias. Because human neuropsychology relies upon "experiments of nature," (in addition to neuroimaging studies of healthy individuals) a major emphasis is on disorders of the central nervous system that affect cognitive and emotional processes.

Principles of Neuroanatomy (502). This course offers an in depth survey of functional anatomy of the human brain. The course is designed primarily for students in fields where knowledge of functional neuroanatomy is important – clinical neuropsychology, speech and hearing sciences, neurosciences, and cognitive neuroscience. The course draws on extensive visual materials including slides of whole brain sections, fiber-stained whole brain serial sections in three anatomical planes, and ex vivo brain dissections. Because neuropsychologists will likely utilize magnetic resonance images for clinical practice and research, special emphasis is placed on identifying brain structures on MRI images.

2. Integrated Didactic and Practicum Experience. The Clinical Neuropsychology Practicum (694D) provides advanced instruction and experience in clinical neuropsychological assessment and consultation. Students receive exposure to a range of neuropsychological assessment problems and instruments, through both case presentations and direct clinical assessment experience. Patients representing a wide age range and the spectrum of educational, occupational, language of origin, ethnic and cultural diversity that characterizes the Southern Arizona region, are seen in this practicum. Students also gain exposure to the interpretation of neurological examination results as well as neuroradiologic (particularly CT, MRI, and SPECT) imaging, EEG, and psychopharmacologic considerations in managing patients with neurobehavioral syndromes. The practicum utilizes the clinical facilities of the Memory Disorders Clinic, the Behavioral Neurology Clinic, and the Comprehensive Epilepsy Evaluation and Treatment Clinic of Banner University Medical Center.

3. Clinical Neuropsychology Externship. Students complete a two-semester, 20 hour per week externship in clinical neuropsychology with one of our partners in the Tucson community. The Psychology Department currently offers externships at Banner University Medical Center, Southern Arizona VA Healthcare System, and private practices in the Tucson community. Each of these settings offers unique and diverse opportunities in clinical neuropsychology and engagement in interdisciplinary healthcare models. Students receive advanced clinical training in case development, assessment, interpretation and report writing, and provision of feedback. Students also receive extensive supervision from highly experienced clinical neuropsychologists, many of whom are board certified.

Neuropsychology Minor Requirements:

Students who pursue the Neuropsychology Minor complete a three-course didactic sequence (i.e., there are no clinical requirements for the Neuropsychology Minor). 504A and 504B (described above) are required courses for the minor. Whereas 502 is required for the Neuropsychology Track, students pursuing the Neuropsychology Minor can tailor the didactic sequence to their training needs by selecting a relevant third course of their choice. Options include but are not limited to:

1. Neuroanatomy (502)
2. Psychophysiology (501)
3. Clinical Neuropsychology (580)
4. Advanced Human Memory (526)
5. Cognitive Neuroscience (528)
6. Computational Cognitive Neuroscience (544)

Core Faculty in Psychology