I’d like to pursue a career in neuropsychology. Should I go via humanities or the science stream?

Neuropsychology is the fusion of two subjects — psychology, which specialises in human behaviour, and neurology, which studies the functioning of the brain and central nervous system. The premise behind the discipline being that an illness of the brain affects how a person behaves and thinks, brain physiology and cognitive psychology are intricately interconnected. So while a psychologist will assess and treat mental and psychological problems, a neuropsychologist will treat psychological disorders with brain-based conditions.

A neuropsychologist would examine the physical side of the human brain in correlation with the nervous system and at the same time look at the psychological effects and the subsequent behaviour patterns. Neuropsychologists tend to fall into two realms — clinical neuropsychologists who deal with patients and treat illnesses, strokes, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders; and cognitive neuropsychologists, who do research and conduct studies on patients with brain disorders. The latter may engage with patients but do not treat them.

There are two schools of thought with respect to the approach of studying the subject as a specialisation. Neuropsychology could be studied via psychology as it would provide the foundation to specialise in the subject at a postgraduate level. In psychology, you’ll study the inner workings of the human mind, which could be the stepping stone for this education. There is another belief that a basic knowledge of the nervous system makes the understanding of neuropsychology better.

Both opinions have their reasons, though majority of experts in the field lean towards studying science primarily because this facilitates the understanding of the human body, its functioning and effects of medicine and drugs on the body and mind. The other reason is the usage of a clinical approach towards the profession is facilitated more by scientific attitude.

To acquire a degree in this field, it is advisable to complete graduate studies in either psychology or biology or premedical and then proceed to either a postgraduate or doctoral programme in neuropsychology.

[The study of psychology and behaviour can prove to be immensely beneficial in the business world]

University of Bristol in the UK offers MSc in applied neuropsychology. This one-year full-time course is a collaboration between the university and the local National Health Service (NHS). The University of Edinburgh offers MSc in Human Cognitive Neuropsychology, which is an intensive programme with a focus on subjects like brain imaging, clinical neuropsychology and research methodology.

Across the Atlantic, University of Illinois, Chicago, Washington State University, Washington, and University of California are some of the campuses in the US offering a master’s degree in neuroscience.

In Australia, University Western Australia, La Trobe University, and Monash University offer master’s and doctoral programmes, which prepare the students for a career in this field.

Sanjeev Verma is an international education counsellor. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.