The objective of neuropsychology is to understand the relationship between the brain and behavior.
Neuropsychological assessment uses specific instruments and techniques to access each one of the brain’s capabilities, such as attentional and executive functions, learning new information, different aspects of memory and intellectual functioning. It enables understanding of the patient’s cognitive skills and difficulties, contributing towards the medical diagnosis and the planning of treatment and rehabilitation.
The process is organized in three stages: anamnesis (gathering historical data), assessment (application of instruments and techniques) and feedback (presentation of results, orientation and delivery of report).
After the assessment, patients who receive an indication may begin a neuropsychological rehabilitation program. This has three main objectives: cognitive stimulation (exercises to develop attentional, planning and memory capacities), development of compensatory strategies to improve the patient´s functioning in day-to-day activities and orientation for families.
Some indications for neuropsychological assessment and rehabilitation are:
Neurofeedback is a non-invasive technique based on concepts of neurosciences and psychology associated with technology. During the session, the patient uses specific apparatuses that capture different types of brain waves which are equivalent to different patterns of behavior. For example, there are waves related to better attentional performance, and others related to deeper states of relaxation.
Neurofeedback sessions are used to train cognitive functions by means of exercises, activities and music, aimed at modulating and producing waves that have an ideal frequency, thus improving the functioning of the brain.
The brain functions addressed particularly in Neurofeedback are the capacity to concentrate, the maintenance of attention, divided and alternating attention, planning, mental flexibility and impulse control. Although memory is not a function that is stimulated directly by neurofeedback, improvements may be noted due to attentional improvements.
What is interesting about this technique is the fact that the waves are captured and processed by a computer which returns them to the patient in the form of charts, visual markers, games etc. This enables patients to assess whether they are achieving their objectives and which aspects they need to improve. Based on this, they can make attempts and develop strategies to change patterns in order to effectively bring about a cognitive change.
To address symptoms of anxiety and stress we also use biofeedback. This involves placing a sensor on the tip of the patients’finger to detect their heart rate. Meanwhile the patient performs exercises using techniques to improve the symptoms. As in neurofeedback, the patient may visualize the results and intervene in them in real time. Here we are seeking a state of cardiac coherence, which is when the organism achieves balance, diminishing physical and psychological problems.
These techniques are used within a Neuropsychological Rehabilitation process. Other tools are associated with the treatment. Patients also receive guidance on the development of compensatory strategies, and family orientation is provided when necessary.
These techniques may be indicated for:
– Attention Deficit Disorder;
– Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder;
– Improvement of depressive symptoms;
– Stress Reduction;
– Anxiety Reduction;
– Improvement in academic performance;
– Improvement in professional performance;
– Improvement in sports performance;
– Changes in lifestyle.
Camila Santos Cechi
Neuropsychologist CRP 06/61989-6