Neuropsychology in Education – A Modern Trend

Dr. Samirranjan Adhikari
M.Sc., Ph.D. (Applied Psychology), M.Ed.

Assistant Professor in Psychology, Shimurali Sachinandan College of Education

Shimurali, Nadia, West Bengal E-mail- Mobil-9231612366

“If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn’t”
-Emerson Pugh, The Biological Origin of Human Values (1977)

Human Brain
• A fascinating and mysterious machine • Weighing only about 3 pounds (1.36 kilograms) and with a volume of about 1,250 cubic centimetres.

Human Brain
Has the ability to –
• monitor and control basic life support systems, • maintain posture and direct our movements, • receive and interpret information about the world around us, and • store information in a readily accessible form throughout our lives

Human Brain
Allows us to – solve problems - strictly practical to highly abstract, communicate fellow human beings through language,

Human Brain
Also allows us to –
• create new ideas and imagine things never existed, • feel love and happiness and disappointment, and • experience an awareness of ourselves as individuals.

Human Brain
• Not only can undertake such a variety of different functions, but can do more or less all of them


• one of the neurosciences • grown to be a separate field of specialization within psychology over about the last 45 years

• Seeks to know –
relationship: brain – behaviour

• Attempts to understand – activity :

brain – observable behaviour

• Attempts to explain – mechanisms responsible: Thinking (Cognitive), Feeling (Affective) & Willing (Conative)

• Attempts to explore – effects of changes:

Brain states – Behaviour


• Understanding behaviour needs to understand brain

• A psychology without any reference to physiology can hardly be complete


•Brain – Behaviour:
make a significant contribution to understanding other more purely psychological factors operate in directing behaviour

The Nervous System An Exquisite and Complex Information Processing System

Phineas Gage

Phineas Gage
A construction worker American railroads In 1848 suffered an accident – an iron bar, over 3½ feet long and 1¼ inches thick entered at the lower cheek and exited from the upper forehead

Phineas Gage
• Survived but underwent a marked change in personality • A capable foreman and an efficient worker – impulsive, wilful, inconsiderate, and obstinate • Continually changed his mind

Gage was no longer the Gage

Central Nervous System (CNS) A Hierarchy of Domains

Brainstem Parts of Brain Cerebellum Diencephalon Cerebrum

Functions of the Brain Parts
• Brain stem –

responsible for automatic survival functions
receives the input from special senses & deals with vital processes and other visceral and somatic functions

• Medulla – controls heartbeat and breathing

Functions of the Brain Parts
• Cerebellum –
coordinates voluntary movement, muscle activity and balance

Diencephalon or subcortical forebrain –
central control of – sensation and movement as well as of appetitive behaviour Motivation, emotion, and the ANS are also served by this region and states of awareness

Functions of the Brain Parts

The Cerebral Cortex
• Telencephalon or cerebral cortex – body’s ultimate control and information processing center

Functions of the Brain Parts
• Telencephalon or cerebral cortex – high-level intelligent behaviour and conscious experience Composed of three zones –
– – – Primary cortex: sensation and the initiation of voluntary motor activity Secondary cortex: perception and the integration of sensory and motor behaviour Tertiary or association cortex: high level thinking, planning, and problem solving.

In addition, specialized regions of the cortex deal with language.

Lobes of the cerebral hemispheres

Planning, decision making speech




The Cerebral Cortex
• Frontal Lobes

• involve in speaking and muscle movements and in making plans and judgments the “executive”
• Parietal Lobes – include the sensory cortex

Frontal Lobe

Frontal Lobe
Motor and pre-motor cortex: (a) Primary and secondary levels of motor control (b) Verbal fluency and design fluency (c) Spelling

Frontal Lobe
Prefrontal: (a) Tertiary level of motor control (b) Adaptability of response pattern (c) Programming and planning of sequences of behaviour (d) Level of response emission (e) Verbal regulation (f) Problem solving (g) Voluntary eye movements (h) Perceptual judgment (i) Memory and attention

Frontal Lobe
Broca’s area: Expressive speech Orbital cortex: (a) Personality (b) Social behaviour

Parietal Lobes

Parietal Lobes
Anterior Somatosensory perceptions Tactile perception Body sense Visual object recognition

Parietal Lobes
Posterior Language Reception of spoken language Reading

Parietal Lobes
Posterior Spatial orientation and attention Route following Left–right discrimination Symbolic syntheses

Parietal Lobes
Posterior Calculation Intentional movement Constructional ability Drawing Cross-modal tactile–visual matching Short-term auditory memory

The Cerebral Cortex

• Occipital Lobes
– include the visual areas, which receive visual information from the opposite visual field

• Temporal Lobes
– include the auditory areas, each of which receives auditory information primarily from the opposite ear

Occipital Lobes

Occipital Lobes
Primary visual sensation (points of light, simple forms) Completion

Occipital Lobes
Visual perception Contours Magnitude Orientation Depth Stereopsis Brightness Colour Movement

Occipital Lobes
Semantic connotation of visual objects Reading

Temporal Lobes

Temporal Lobes
Audition Reception of auditory stimulation (Heschl’s gyrus) Perception of auditory stimuli (superior temporal gyrus) Cognitions relating to auditory events (anterior, superior, and middle temporal gyrus) Musical abilities (right temporal lobe)

Temporal Lobes
Vision Tertiary visual function (middle inferior temporal gyrus) Perception of faces (right inferior temporal gyrus)

Temporal Lobes
Language Reception and comprehension of speech and writing (left superior temporal gyrus and temporal–parietal–occipital junction)

Temporal Lobes

Attention Cross-modal integration

Temporal Lobes

Amnesic syndrome (bilateral mesial temporal lobe) Verbal long-term memory (left temporal lobe) Spatial long-term memory (right temporal lobe) Paired associate learning (anterior temporal lobe)

Temporal Lobes
Personality Experiential perception (anterior temporal lobe) Sexual behavior (anterior, especially bilateral)

Hemispheric Specialization LEFT
Symbolic thinking (Language) Detail Literal meaning

Spatial perception Overall picture Context, metaphor

Sensation and Perception

Bottom-up and Top-down Processes
• Bottom-up processing – Starts with unprocessed sensory information builds more conceptual representation • Top-down processing – Conceptual knowledge influences processing or interpretation of lower level perceptual processing

• The process by which the central nervous system receives input from the environment via sensory neurons • Bottom up processing

The five major senses
• Vision – electromagnetic
– Occipital lobe

• Hearing – mechanical
– Temporal lobe

• Touch – mechanical
– Sensory cortex

• Taste – chemical
– Gustatory insular cortex

• Smell – chemical
– Olfactory bulb – Orbitofrontal cortex – Vomeronasal organ?

Sensory Areas – Sensory Homunculus

• The process by which the brain interprets and organizes sensory information • Top-down processing

Functional Brain System
Networks of neurons working together and spanning wide areas of the brain The two systems are – Limbic system & Reticular formation

Limbic System  Located on the medial aspects of cerebral
hemispheres and diencephalon –


hypothalamus, amygdala, and anterior nucleus of the thalamus

Limbic System

The Limbic System
Deal with basic drives, emotions, and memory Hypothalamus  Hunger, thirst, body temperature, pleasure; regulates pituitary gland (hormones)

Amygdala  Aggression (fight) and fear (flight) Hippocampus  Memory processing

Limbic System: Emotion and Cognition
The limbic system interacts with the prefrontal lobes –
can react emotionally to conscious understandings consciously aware of emotion in life

Hippocampal structures – convert new information into long-term memories

Limbic System
Parts especially important in emotions:  Amygdala – deals with anger, danger, and fear responses  Cingulate gyrus – plays a role in expressing emotions via gestures, and resolves mental conflict

Puts emotional responses to odors – e.g., skunks smell bad

Reticular Formation
•Widespread connections •Arousal of the brain as a whole •Reticular activating system (RAS) •Maintains consciousness and alertness •Functions in sleep and arousal from sleep

Reticular Formation

Reticular Formation
Composed of three broad columns along the length of the brain stem
 Raphe nuclei  Medial (large cell) group  Lateral (small cell) group

Has far-flung axonal connections with hypothalamus, thalamus, cerebellum, and spinal cord

Reticular Formation: RAS and Motor Function
• RAS – Reticular Activating System
– Sends impulses to the cerebral cortex to keep it conscious and alert – Filters out repetitive and weak stimuli

• Motor function
– Helps control coarse motor movements – Autonomic centers regulate visceral motor functions – e.g., vasomotor, cardiac, and respiratory centers

Is holistic and totally interconnected Clinical consciousness: on a continuum that grades levels of behaviour –
alertness, drowsiness, stupor, coma

 Encompasses – perception of sensation, voluntary initiation and control of movement, and capabilities associated with higher mental processing  Involves – simultaneous activity of large areas of the cerebral cortex

Attention: Ability to detect and respond to stimuli Psychological level: Implies a preferential allocation of processing resources and response channels to events that have become behaviourally relevant Neural level:
Refers to alternations in the selectivity, intensity and duration of neuronal responses to such events

Types of Attention
a) Alertness and Arousal –
The basic aspects: Enable a person to extract information from the environment or to select a particular response coma  full alertness


Vigilance (sustained attention) –

c) Selective attention – Ability to scan events/stimuli and pick out the

The ability to sustain alertness: Monitor an event stimulus) continuously

ones that are relevant difficult to monitor two events in the same modality

Neurophysiology of Attentional Matrix

Reticular activating system Superior colliculus Thalamus Parietal lobe Frontal lobe Cingulate cortex

Stages of Memory
 The two stages of memory – short-term memory and long-term memory  Short-term memory (STM, or working memory) – Fleeting memory of the events that continually happen STM lasts seconds to hours and is limited to 7 or 8 pieces of information  Long-term memory (LTM) has limitless capacity

Transfer from STM to LTM
 Factors effect transfer of memory: STM to LTM
Emotional state – Alert, motivated, and aroused Rehearsal – Enhances memory Association – New information with old memories in LTM enhances memory Automatic memory – subconscious information stored in LTM

Categories of Memory

Two categories of memory - fact memory and skill memory

Categories of Memory
• Fact (declarative) memory:
– Entails learning explicit information – Is related to our conscious thoughts and our language ability – Is stored with the context in which it was learned

Structures Involved in Fact Memory
• Fact memory involves the following brain areas:
– Hippocampus and the amygdala, both limbic system structures – Specific areas of the thalamus and hypothalamus of the diencephalon – Ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the basal forebrain

Skill Memory
Skill memory is less conscious than fact memory Involves motor activity Acquired through practice Not retain the context in which they were learned

Structures Involved in Skill Memory
Skill memory involves:  Corpus striatum – mediates the automatic connections between a stimulus and a motor response  Portion of the brain receiving the stimulus  Premotor and motor cortex

• “...relatively

permanent changes in behavior produced by experience”
– Changes in the nervous system by experiences – Changes are physical – Learning allows us to adapt our behaviors to the environment – Learning involves interactions among the motor, sensory, and memory systems

Forms of Learning
• Perceptual learning functions to identify objects and situations • Stimulus-Response learning involves making a response when a particular stimulus is present – Classical conditioning – Operant Conditioning • Motor learning involves forming new circuits in motor system • Relational learning involves identifying connections between stimuli

Learning - classical conditioning
• Ivan Pavlov researched classical conditioning in which pairing of two stimuli changes the response to one of them. – Presentation of a conditioned stimulus (CS) is paired with an unconditioned stimulus (UCS). – Automatically results in an unconditioned response (UCR). • After several pairings, response can be elicited by the CS without the UCS, which is known as a conditioned response (CR).

Pavlovian Conditioning & Brain Function

• Conditioning strengthened connections between the CS center and UCS center in the brain.

Pavlovian Conditioning & Brain Function

Instrumental Conditioning
• Association between a response and a consequent stimulus
– Reinforcement: Responses that are followed by “favourable” consequences are more likely to occur in the future
• Reinforcement occurs in the context of a stimulus • That stimulus can elicit the response

– Punishment: Responses that are followed by “unfavorable” consequences are less likely to occur in the future

•And miles to go ….. •And miles to go …..

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