Director: Dr. Maria Roca.

Laboratory Mission 

neuropsicologia

The principal aim of the LNPS is the description of cognitive disorders in various neurological and psychiatric disorders in order, not only to contribute to the evaluation and treatment of such diseases, but also to understand normal brain function. We study the neuropsychological profile of patients with numerous neurological and psychiatric disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder to collaborate in the description of several cognitive functions neural basis, such as memory or Social Cognition.

Lines of investigation:

Assessment of Frontal Lobe Functions in various neurological and psychiatric disorders.neuropsicologia 2

The frontal lobes are crucial to understanding our identity as human beings, our motivations, our ambitions and our essence. Their extensive and complex neural connections enable a wide range of functions, including abstract reasoning, mental flexibility, inhibitory control, problem solving, multitasking, memory, theory of mind and empathy, among several others. It is one of the main objectives of Neuropsychology Research Laboratory the understanding of this important area of our brain and its role in various neurological and psychiatric disorders including frontotemporal dementia, frontal injury, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia among others.

Fluid intelligence and frontal lobe functioning

Neuropsicologia 3

Intelligence is generally defined as the ability to solve problems and there are numerous studies attempting to understand and classify it. After observing a significant positive correlations in the performance test that measured different skills Spearman proposed the existence of a general factor (g factor or fluid intelligence) that modulate performance in different cognitive tasks.

Different sources of information have associated fluid intelligence with the frontal lobe. In addition to generating failures in tests of fluid intelligence, lesions in the frontal lobe also affect performance on cognitive tests, such as flexibility or verbal fluency, which have become known as classical tests of executive functions. Also, the frontal lobe has also been associated with fundamental functions for the human being as theory of mind and multitasking.

Several years ago, INECO began a collaboration with Professor John Duncan of Cambridge Cognition and Brain Science Unit in England, trying to determine the relationship between fluid intelligence and performance in various cognitive tests previously associated with the frontal lobe. At present Neuropsychology Research Laboratory is conducting several studies on different neurological and psychiatric diseases involving the frontal lobe, trying to determine the relationship between fluid intelligence and other frontal deficits.

 

Cognitive deficits in various neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Deficits in functions such as memory, attention, language and behavior are fundamental symptoms of multiple neurological and psychiatric disorders. Is the aim of the Laboratory Research in Neuropsychology[MR1]  to contribute to the understanding of cognitive and mental functioning in various neurological diseases – including Alzheimer’s disease, cerebrovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Epilepsy – and psychiatric – such as depression, bipolar disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder and Schizophrenia among others. Our team aims not only to the description of cognitive failures in these diseases, but also to design tools for detecting these problems early and to generate strategies for treatment and rehabilitation.

Design, adaptation and validation of neuropsychological tools.

This line of research in the Research Laboratory in Neuropsychology aims to provide health professionals with solid tools to collect data objectively and to evaluate multiple aspects of the patient, including cognitive performance, their mood symptoms and their ability to function in daily life, among many others.

Under this premise, we have focused on the development and validation of useful tools in the clinical setting. Recently, we have adapted and validated to our population cognitive screening tool (eg. ACE and ACE-R), which are required throughout the Spanish-speaking world for use by skilled and unskilled personnel as a mechanism.  With the same objective in mind, the group has validated tools of cognitive screening for specific domains, with a special interest in evaluating executive functions (eg. INECO Frontal Screening) as well as in the development of scales useful for evaluating activities of daily living (eg. ADLQ) that allow to obtain objective measures on the level of functional independence of the patient.

As part of this research, we have also developed batteries assessment of executive functions and social cognition (eg. ESCB) intended to increase the sensitivity and specificity of standard cognitive assessment to detect frontal changes, which cannot be captured by conventional laboratory tests.

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