Neuropsychology Interview Questions & Answers

  1. Question 1. How Can Neuroimaging Work Complement The Single Case Study Approach In Neuropsychology?

    Answer :

    Define neuroimaging and the single case study approach. It should show an awareness of the subjects studied using fMRI and PET, and the overlap between the subjects in these studies and those in single case studies. It should distinguish between structural and functional neuroimaging methods. The advantages and disadvantages of each approach should be made clear, and an outline of the criticisms of neuroimaging portraying it as ‘glorified phrenology’ should be addressed. A very good answer would challenge whether neuroimaging can complement the single case study approach.

  2. Question 2. What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of The Single Case Study Approach In Neuropsychology?

    Answer :

    Define the single case study approach, show an awareness of its historical roots and describe its role in the development of neuropsychology. The advantages and disadvantages of the approach should be addressed in detail. It should describe the debate concerning weak and strong cognitive neuropsychology (Caramazza vs Kosslyn, for example).

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  4. Question 3. What Questions Does Neuroimaging Help Answer And How Successful Is It At Doing So?

    Answer :

    Understand that the question is really addressing the validity of neuroimaging methods. The advantages and disadvantages of neuroimaging methods should be explicitly outlined (not a measure of neural activation; poor temporal resolution; good consistency across centres; good spatial resolution, etc.). The answer should address some questions asked by psychologists about the brain, including the role of brain regions in reading, speaking, memorizing, and so on.

  5. Question 4. Why Is Knowledge And Awareness Of Neuroanatomy And Neurochemistry Important To Understanding Neuropsychological Research?

    Answer :

    Begin with a historical appreciation of neuropsychology, drawing on information from the Ancient Greeks to the 19th century regarding the correlation between brain damage and behavioural function. The essay should cite examples where an understanding of neuroanatomy and neurochemistry is essential to our understanding  of human behaviour, and  a really good  answer  would  show how such knowledge  has challenged  some  views of brain  function and  behaviour(e.g. the  finding  that not  all ‘frontal lobe’ patients show  the  typical ‘frontal lobe syndrome’).

  6. Question 5. Evaluate The Evidence That There Are Different Visual Systems For Analyzing Different Types Of Visual Experience?

    Answer :

    Evaluate the models proposed by Schneider, Unbeliever and Mishkin, and Goodale and Milner, providing critical evaluation where appropriate. The essay should cite examples in support (or not in support) of the models. A good answer will consider the implications of these models for how the brain organizes sensory information.

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  8. Question 6. Define The Term ‘localization Of Function’. How Successful Have Neuropsychologists Been In ‘localizing’ Function?

    Answer :

    As the question inevitably suggests, define the term and distinguish between it and lateralization. The essay should show an awareness of how the concept developed in neuropsychology and how it is the guiding principle of neuropsychology (some argue). A very good answer will address the problem of defining a function. A very good answer will also outline some of the problems associated with localizing function, based on brain injury data and the problems in extrapolating from these patients to healthy individuals and normal psychological functioning, and based on neuroimaging data (where decreased activation does not necessarily mean that the deactivated area is not involved in a function).

  9. Question 7. What Clear Evidence Is There For Lateralization Of Function In The Human Brain? What Purpose Could Such Lateralization Serve?

    Answer :

    Define  the  term  ‘lateralization’  and  describe  some  of the principal lateralized  functions, such as speech and  mental rotation (a  really good answer will cite  more  specific  examples and  other  functions). The essay should describe how such lateralization is measured (brain injury, neuroimaging, invasive techniques such as the Wada test, visual field studies, colostomy, etc.) and how successful these measures are in lateralizing function. The second part of the answer should describe and evaluate the various hypotheses of lateralization and its evolution.

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  11. Question 8. What Exactly Is Localized When Neuroscientists Refer To ‘localization Of Function’?

    Answer :

    Define the term ‘localization of function’ and describe how psychologists study localization. The important part of the answer will address carefully what is meant by ‘function’, and the inadvisability (possibility) of using blanket terms to describe functions that may be more fractionated or which may not reflect an actual function. The essay should cite examples of these, and evaluate the problems associated with localizing function depending on the approach taken.

  12. Question 9. If The Frontal Lobes Are The Brain’s ‘orchestra Leader’, What Exactly Do They Lead And Why?

    Answer :

    Outline where the frontal lobes are and what they generally do. The essay should note the provenance of the quote, explain what is meant by it and why Luria so described the lobes in this way. The essay will describe some functions that might be under the control of the frontal lobes, and describe and evaluate theories of frontal lobe function.

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  14. Question 10. Why Do Some ‘frontal Lobe’ Patients Not Show The Typical Frontal Lobe Symptoms?

    Answer :

    Outline the general role and development of the frontal lobes and define the term ‘syndrome’. The essay will then consider what are called typical frontal lobe symptoms (and how these were studied and by whom), and studies suggesting that some frontal lobe patients do not exhibit these symptoms (e.g. EVR and others). The essay will consider the implications of these studies for conceptions of frontal lobe function.

  15. Question 11. Why Did Phineas Gage’s Acquaintances Describe Him As ‘no Longer Gage’ After His Head Injury? What Theory Might Account For Gage’s And Other Similar Patients’ Deficits?

    Answer :

    First describe what happened to Gage and why it is relevant to neuropsychology. It will describe the post injury changes in his behaviour and draw parallels between these changes and those seen in patients such as EVR and NM. The specific brain region involved should be described. The essay will evaluate explanations for these changes, citing hypotheses such as the somatic marker hypothesis. A very good answer will indicate how these changes may be unconnected to intelligence.

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  17. Question 12. What Types Of Visual Agnosia Have Been Proposed? What Evidence Exists For Dissociation Between Apperceptive And Associative Visual Agnosia?

    Answer :

    Define ‘visual agnosia’ and outline the historical development of the disorder. It will define the two types of agnosia mentioned here but also describe others that are not. A very good answer will evaluate the basis for fractionating visual agnosia in this way and consider whether these disorders are discrete or points on a continuum.

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  19. Question 13. Describe The Characteristics Of Spatial Hemi Neglect. Is This Simply Neglected Of One Side Of Sensory Space?

    Answer :

    Define the term ‘spatial hemi neglect’ and then describe the symptoms of the disorder and the specific types of spatial neglect. The essay will describe ways in which neglect is tested and evaluate whether neglect is to a sensory space or whether neglect involves no sensory factors (attention). A very good answer will describe and evaluate theories of spatial neglect.

  20. Question 14. Define The Term ‘blind Sight’ And Provide Two Alternative Explanations For The Phenomenon?

    Answer :

    Define the term ‘blind sight’ and describe its historical development in neuropsychology (from Riddoch to Weiskrantz). A really good essay will consider whether the phenomenon is genuine, and evaluate the evidence for and against this view (drawing on Cowey’s review in QJEP, for example). A good essay will describe and evaluate two theories but would also refer to others.

  21. Question 15. Which Neuropath Logical Factors Could Explain The Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease?

    Answer :

    Define the term ‘Parkinson’s disease’ and describe the principal symptoms of the disorder. It will describe the neural dysfunction characteristic of the disease and will consider whether this dysfunction underlies the motor impairment. A good answer will draw on DBS studies and knowledge of the effects of L­’DOPA to address the question.

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  23. Question 16. Define The Term ‘apraxia’ And Describe Its Symptoms And Underlying Neural Basis. Why Are There So Many Types Of Apraxia?

    Answer :

    Define apraxia and outline its historical development. It will point out that many different kinds of apraxia have been described, and it will describe the symptoms involved in each. The essay will describe the regions of the brain which, when damaged, lead to apraxia, and will consider whether these apraxias are discrete disorders or not.

  24. Question 17. Evaluate The Role Of The Basal Ganglia In Movement Disorders?

    Answer :

    Outline what the basal ganglia are and where they are located. The  essay should  describe  their involvement in  movement disorders, such  as Parkinson’s disease  and  Huntington’s disease, and  why they should  be so involved. A very good answer will evaluate the role of different parts of the basal ganglia in movement disorder.

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  26. Question 18. Evaluate The Contribution Of Neuroimaging Studies To Our Understanding Of Normal And Disordered Language Processing?

    Answer :

    Describe the neuroimaging methods used to study impaired and normal language, and describe the advantages and disadvantages of each for the study of this function. The essay will describe the types of language functions studied.  A really good essay will indicate how neuroimaging studies have complemented single case studies of language. It should note the application of neuroimaging to studying different languages and sign language. It should evaluate whether these techniques can show those areas that are sufficient or necessary for language processing.

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  28. Question 19. Discuss The Neurobiological Bases Of Specific Language Impairment And Developmental Dyslexia?

    Answer :

    Define the terms ‘specific language impairment’ and ‘developmental dyslexia’, and show how these differ from acquired dyslexia. It should outline the cytoarchitectonic, structural, regional and activational brain characteristics of the disorders and evaluate whether these are causal or correlational.

  29. Question 20. How Have Neuropsychological Studies Of Aphasic Patients Informed Our Understanding Of The Structure And Function Of The Normal Language System?

    Answer :

    Define the term ‘aphasia’, note the different types and be aware of the controversy over whether these are clear-cut disorders (cf. Wernicke Broca Lichtheim model). It should describe the various symptoms of aphasia and the associated brain region damaged, and evaluate whether this damage means the area is necessary for the function disrupted. A really good essay will also describe the debate over whether Wernicke’s area is unitary. The essay will consider the aphasias’ contribution to models of language function.

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  31. Question 21. Evaluate The Suggestion That Multiple Memory Systems Are Underpinned By Multiple Neural Systems?

    Answer :

    Acknowledge that memory is not unitary but comprises different types. The essay should define the characteristics of these types, as well as describing the different processes involved in memory (encoding, retrieval including recognition and recall), and then correlate these memory types with activation in specific  brain regions and with brain damage in single cases studies. The essay will address whether this correlation amounts to anything more than a correlation or whether the brain regions implicated in memory are necessary for memory.

  32. Question 22. What Causes Amnesia?

    Answer :

    Define ‘amnesia’ (global) and its two subtypes (anterograde and retrograde). It will outline possible causes, such as damage to the hippocampus (HM) or the maxillary bodies (Korsakoff’s). The role of the temporal lobe should also be discussed.

  33. Question 23. Evaluate The Role Of The Hippocampus In Spatial Memory?

    Answer :

    Describe the importance of the hippocampus to memory in general. It should then evaluate critically the evidence implicating the hippocampus in spatial memory from early studies with rodents to recent imaging studies. O’Keefe and Nadel’s model should be introduced and evaluated, as should meta-analyses suggesting that the hippocampus may play a more specific role than general spatial memory.

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  35. Question 24. Evaluate The Evidence That The Brain Has Discrete Regions Or Systems For Processing Different Emotions?

    Answer :

    Begin by outlining the problem with defining emotion. Using data  from animal lesioning  studies and  classical conditioning  studies (e.g. Le Doux et all’s studies), brain injury studies (the amygdala and fear recognition, and the role of the orbit frontal cortex), brain disease studies (Huntington’s disease) in  humans, and  neuroimaging and EEG studies, the  essay should  evaluate  whether these studies suggest that different emotions (such as fear, happiness, sadness, disgust, and  anger) are  sub served  by different neural routes. The essay should note the distinction between emotional recognition and emotional experience, and the importance of making  this distinction to understanding  the  neuropsychology of emotion.

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  37. Question 25. In What Way Can The Amygdale Be Conceived As The ‘sensory Gateway To The Emotions’?

    Answer :

    Describe what led Aggleton and Mishkin to describe the amygdale in this way, drawing on early lesion studies in primates and monkeys. It would then describe what seems to be the amygdala’s disproportionate role in fear recognition, drawing on studies of classical conditioning in rodents, brain injury in humans and neuroimaging. The essay should note whether both sides of the amygdale perform different functions. A discussion of the amygdala’s role in other emotions, together with an evaluation of why the amygdale is involved in the behaviours it is, should be included.

  38. Question 26. Do Different Brain Systems Mediate The Perception And Experience Of Emotion?

    Answer :

    Begin by outlining the problem with defining emotion. The essay should note the distinction between emotional recognition and emotional experience, and the importance of making this distinction to understanding the neuropsychology of emotion, drawing on non¬invasive studies of lateralization, such as visual field studies. The essay should evaluate the right¬for¬emotion hypothesis.

    Using data from animal lesioning studies, classical conditioning studies (e.g. Le Doux et all’s studies), brain injury studies (the amygdala and fear recognition, and the role of the orbit frontal cortex), brain disease studies (Huntington’s disease) in humans, and  neuroimaging  and EEG  studies, the  essay should  evaluate  whether different neural systems are implicated in expression and recognition.

  39. Question 27. Contrast The Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease With Those Of Parkinson’s Disease. What Causes These Different Symptoms And How Does This Affect The Treatment Of These Disorders?

    Answer :

    Define the two disorders and describe the symptoms of each, noting that the two diseases, although leading to dementia of one kind or another, have different behavioural effects. The answer will describe the similarities in the cognitive symptoms of each and the differences between them (as well as the obvious physical differences). The essay will describe the underlying neuropathology and use this knowledge to describe the treatment approaches. The essay might describe how some treatments that can be applied to both (e.g. transplantation) may be more effective for one than the other and explain why this is so.

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  41. Question 28. What Are The Three Most Common Forms Of Cortical Dementia? Explain How These Can Be Differentiated From Each Other?

    Answer :

    Note that the question asks for three cortical dementias (not noncritical dementias). The essay will choose three common dementias – perhaps DAT, VD and FTD – and describe the symptoms of each, noting the commonalities between them and also the differences. The essay will explain why the symptoms are different, with reference to the dementias’ underlying neuropathology, and why they are similar. A very good essay will outline the problems with making a certain diagnosis of specific dementia.

  42. Question 29. Is The Cognitive Decline (and Underlying Neuropathology) Associated With Dementia Simply An Exaggeration Of The Effects Of Normal Ageing?

    Answer :

    Define ‘dementia’ and perhaps focus on one or two of the major dementias, describing the cognitive symptoms of each. The essay should note that similarities exist between cognitive decline with ageing and those seen in dementia (and describe these), and also note the differences. The essay will explain why this is so, and note the theories of Salt house and others which try to explain decline with ageing. The difficulties in distinguishing between the effect of dementia and ageing will be discussed.

  43. Question 30. Can Dysfunctional Neurotransmitter Systems Explain The Appearance Of Depression?

    Answer :

    Define the term ‘depression’ and describe its symptoms. The role of the amines in depression will be described and evaluated, with reference to the antidepressant medication administered historically and more recently. The role of the prefrontal cortex and the projection of the serotonergic system to it should be described, in tandem with neuroimaging studies of depression.

  44. Question 31. Do Different Neural Systems Underpin The Different Anxiety Disorders?

    Answer :

    Define what is meant by an ‘anxiety disorder’ and describe the main types. The symptoms of each should be described, and the neural features that might distinguish between them, evaluated.  Neuroimaging work, especially those involving symptom provocation, should be cited, and the models described by Cannisastro and Rauch might be described and evaluated. Models of anxiety should be discussed, especially Gray’s model.

  45. Question 32. What Are The Neuropsychological Symptoms Of Schizophrenia And What Might Explain These?

    Answer :

    Define the term ‘schizophrenia’, note that there are different types and describe the major symptoms of each. The essay should then describe the neuropsychological symptoms associated with schizophrenia, including neural and neurotransmitter characteristics. Models of the neuropsychology of schizophrenia, such as Crow’s lateralization and language theory, should be discussed.

  46. Question 33. How Does Functional Asymmetry Develop?

    Answer :

    Define the term ‘functional asymmetry’. An outline of how the brain develops pre¬ and post¬natally should be given. MRI studies of asymmetry development during  childhood  and  through to adolescence and  young  adulthood should  be described and evaluated, together with studies of aphasia in children who have  sustained  brain  injury or had  brain  surgery (hemp decortication). Theories of asymmetric cortical development should be evaluated.

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  48. Question 34. Evaluate The Hypothesis That, In Terms Of Recovery Of Function, Brain Damage When Young Is Better Than Brain Damage When Old?

    Answer :

    Outline the process of recovery from brain injury, and describe some of the principal factors that can influence recovery. The question is examining the  understanding  of the  Kennard  principle,  and  this should  be described  and evaluated, using  evidence from studies of aphasia  in  children and adults. The data suggesting that age is one of the most important determinants of successful recovery should be evaluated.

  49. Question 35. What Factors Influence Recovery Of Function After Brain Injury? Why?

    Answer :

    Outline the process of recovery from brain injury, and describe some of the principal factors that can influence recovery. These include: age; education; handedness; sex; Social support; And motivation. Models of recovery should be described and evaluated.

  50. Question 36. What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Fixed Battery Versus Flexible Testing Approaches To Neuropsychological Assessment?

    Answer :

    Define what is meant by these two approaches, giving examples. The essay will explain why these two approaches are taken, and the contexts under which they would be adopted. 

    Advantages of fixed battery testing might include:  inclusiveness and comprehensiveness; Availability of norms; And establishment of individual scores to represent general cognitive performance.

    Disadvantages of fixed battery might include:  time consuming administration; Attention span of the patient/participant; There will be some functions not tested by the battery; And norms may not be appropriate, etc.

    Advantages of the flexible approach might include:  being able to tailor testing to the problem presented, using a test designed specifically to diagnose a specific disorder; And short administration time. Disadvantages of the flexible approach might include not testing a function that might be impaired and not spotted.

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  52. Question 37. Describe Some Of The Methodological Problems Encountered During Neuropsychological Assessment And Outline Ways In Which These Might Be Overcome?

    Answer :

    Outline the aims and purpose of neuropsychological assessment. Some of the problems encountered include: test choice; Patient variables; Age of the participant; Medium of test administration; The time taken to test; And malingering etc.

  53. Question 38. What Is Meant By ‘estimating Premorbid Ability’?evaluate Its Usefulness In Neuropsychological Assessment?

    Answer :

    Define ‘premorbid ability’, describe estimates of premorbid ability and explain why this is an important concept in neuropsychological assessment. The essay will give examples of tests of premorbid ability, and evaluate their success in predicting cognitive ability in patients with mental illness, with brain injury and in healthy young and old individuals. A good answer will explain why tests such as the NART are more appropriate than other measures of estimating premorbid ability.