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Unit information: Neuropsychology of psychological disorders across a lifespan in 2020/21

Unit name Neuropsychology of psychological disorders across a lifespan
Unit code EDUC30042
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Knight
Open unit status Not open

Y2 unit: Biological Psychology & Developmental Disorders



School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit provides students with a grounding in key concepts related to studying, assessing and treating patients with psychological disorders across a lifespan from a neuropsychological perspective. Students will be provided with a broad understanding of potential biological causes, and their interaction with environmental ones; modes of neuropsychological assessments; and targeted behavioural and psychopharmacological interventions.

Students will be guided in understanding and evaluating the interrelation between biological and wider psychosocial causes of psychological disorders, considering disorders with varying contributions of each, such as addictive disorders (significant biological contribution) and personality disorder (significant psychosocial contribution). Students will develop an in depth understanding of five key categories of psychological symptoms and disorders (addictive disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders, neurodegenerative disorders and neurocognitive consequences of stroke) with a focus on neuropsychological explanations, alongside developmental, social and environmental contributors.

Students will be prompted to consider the appropriate application of assessment and intervention, and the implications of accurate diagnoses and intervention pathways (medical versus behavioural). Throughout, students will be required to consider the ethical issues inherent in this sensitive field, and develop a good range of skills in the critical evaluation and interpretation of research.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this unit students will be able to demonstrate that they:

  1. Understand the complex profile of potential causes of a range of common psychological disorders from biological and wider psychosocial perspectives; 

  2. Understand the interrelated and complementary nature of biological and wider psychosocial perspectives on common psychological disorders, and are able to critically interrogate theoretical and experimental claims from such sources 

  3. Understand key neuropsychological assessment tools and interventions, and are able to identify and justify their appropriate application; 

  4. Are able to evaluate the relevance of biopsychological explanations of common psychological disorders for policy and practice, with specific reference to developing appropriate interventions; 

  5. Have an awareness of the ethical issues and practices in the field.

Teaching details

This unit will be taught using a blended approach consisting of a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous activities including seminars, lectures, reading and discussions. This blended approach will be equivalent to 1 x two-hour weekly lecture and 1 x one-hour practical class in face to face taught terms

Assessment Details

One assessment point: - 3000 word research proposal = 100% (ILOs 1-5)

Students will select one of the five core psychological disorders covered throughout the series for which to write a research proposal developing a novel intervention. Students will describe current knowledge on the symptom profile, causes and intervention pathways of the chosen disorder. Students will then propose a new intervention (or extension of current interventions), and considering experimental rigour, describe how the success of that intervention will be established. Students will present hypotheses with respect to standing literature, and ethical considerations associated with such a project.

Reading and References

Core texts will consist of empirical journal articles that correspond to the weekly topics. These will be updated based on new releases but will include papers such as:


Gazzaniga, M. (1979). Neuropsychology / edited by Michael S. Gazzaniga. (Handbook of behavioral neurobiology ; 2). New York: Plenum Press

Gazzaniga, M. S., Ivry,R. B & Mangun, G. R. (2014). Cognitive neuroscience: the biology of the mind (3rded.). London: Norton.

Glenn, A., & Raine, A. (2014). Neuropsychology. In Psychopathy (p. Psychopathy, Chapter 005). NYU Press.

Kolb, B., & Wishaw, I.Q. (2009). Fundamentals of Human Neuropsychology. Worth Publishers, New York (6th Edition).

Noggle, C. A. & Dean, R. S. (Eds) (2013) The Neuropsychology of Psychopathology. Springer.


Bateman, A. W., Gunderson, J., & Mulder, R. (2015). Treatment of personality disorder. The Lancet, 385(9969), 735-743.

Chamberlain, S. R., & Sahakian, B. J. (2006). The neuropsychology of mood disorders. Current psychiatry reports, 8(6), 458-463.

Goldstein, R. Z., & Volkow, N. D. (2011). Dysfunction of the prefrontal cortex in addiction: neuroimaging findings and clinical implications. Nature reviews neuroscience, 12(11), 652.

Kehagia, A. A., Barker, R. A., & Robbins, T. W. (2010). Neuropsychological and clinical heterogeneity of cognitive impairment and dementia in patients with Parkinson's disease. The Lancet Neurology, 9(12), 1200-1213.

Newton-Howes, G., Clark, L. A., & Chanen, A. (2015). Personality disorder across the life course. The Lancet, 385(9969), 727-734.