ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

›› 2008, Vol. 16 ›› Issue (1): 4-9.

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An Introduction to Cognitive Neuropsychology

Max Coltheart   

  1. Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science, Macquarie University, NSW 2109 Australia
  • Received:2007-05-30 Revised:1900-01-01 Online:2008-01-15 Published:2008-01-15
  • Contact: Max Coltheart

Abstract: Cognitive neuropsychology is a branch of cognitive psychology. Its aim therefore is to discover what the mental information-processing procedures are that people use when executing acts of cognition, and it seeks to do this by studying ways in which cognition can break down after brain damage. It is distinct from cognitive neuroscience; cognitive neuropsychology is about the mind whereas cognitive neuroscience is about the brain (specifically, about brain mechanisms subserving cognition). The methods of cognitive neuropsychology can also be used to study developmental disorders of cognition such as dyslexia or specific language impairment: such work is known as developmental cognitive neuropsychology. These methods can also be used to study high-level aspects of cognition such as belief formation or theory of mind. Disorders of such high level aspects of cognition are the province of psychiatry, and so this kind of cognitive neuropsychology (which studies such conditions as delusion, hallucination or confabulation) is known as cognitive neuropsychiatry. Characteristic features of cognitive neuropsychology are (a) that it investigates symptoms, not syndromes; (b) that it uses single-case studies, not group studies; (c) that its chief source of data is double dissociations between symptoms; and (d) that it is committed to modular modelling of cognition.

Key words: cognition,cognitive neuropsychology,cognitive neuroscience,cognitive neuropsychiatry