chapter  1
18 Pages

The foundations of neuropsychology

We take the view that a proper understanding of the current status of neuropsychology cannot be formed without at least a rudimentary appreciation of its origins. Thus, in this chapter we offer a brief history of the beginnings of scientific research into the brain, and we introduce some of the theories (and debates) that have surfaced as our understanding of the relationship between structure and functions has developed. We describe some discoveries that led to the development of the so-called “brain hypothesis”, a concept that is central to neuropsychology (if not to psychology as a whole). We then introduce the “localisation of function” debate, which has rumbled on from its origins in the work of the 19th-century neuroanatomists, and continues to influence the distinct approaches and methodologies of clinical and cognitive neuropsychologists that we describe towards the end of the chapter. Fodor’s concept of modularity (of mind: he is a philosopher rather than a researcher) is introduced and re-assessed in light of recent findings. Its current status is considered, by way of illustration, in relation to the neuroanatomy and connectivity of a little-known region of cortex called the precuneus (Cavanna & Trimble, 2006).