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PSY3018 : The Damaged Brain: Case Studies in Neuropsychology

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Quoc Vuong
  • Owning School: Psychology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


The primary aims of this module are :
(1) Introduce students to the principles and methods of neuropsychology
(2) Introduce case studies as an experimental approach
(3) Demonstrate how the damaged brain in combination with recent brain imaging techniques can inform students about cognitive functions in areas such as vision, language, motor control and conscious awareness
(4) Develop critical analysis and oral communication skills

Original Summary:
This module introduces students to the growing field of neuropsychology which examines the relationship between brain structures and functions such as vision, language, motor control, and conscious awareness. As the title suggests, the module focuses on (1) how brain damage leads to deficits in these functions, and (2) how case studies can inform researchers about how the brain works in neurologically healthy people. For example, in prosopagnosia, lesions to the temporal lobes can lead to a profound inability to visually recognize faces (even of the individual’s own face!) but with no impaired vision. Students will critically examine neurological case studies, and learn how this method complements more recent brain imaging techniques in both healthy and damaged brains.

Outline Of Syllabus

The specific themes covered in this module are:
(1) History and development of neuropsychology
(2) Review of brain anatomy
(3) Using case studies to understand the undamaged brain
(4) Case studies across different possible functions
Vision: e.g., prosopagnosia – impairment in face recognition
Language: e.g., aphasia – deficits in language production
Memory: e.g., amnesia – memory loss following brain damage
Motor control: e.g., apraxia – deficits in motor control
(5) Imaging the healthy and damaged brain – introduction to the different techniques to see the brain (e.g., magnetic resonance imaging)
(6) Methods of assessing impact of brain damage on functions, and methods of rehabilitation

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion13:003:00Presentation preparation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical31:003:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading120:0020:00Read assigned articles
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching91:009:00Includes presentations
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity13:003:00Presentation preparation in group
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study150:0050:00Revise lecture notes
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures are needed to discuss the underlying principles and methodology of neuropsychology (ILO 1-4). The seminars allow students to discuss specific case studies, develop presentation skills, and provide time for individual presentations (ILO 5-6). The private study provides student with the opportunity to evaluate the evidence and carry out further reading as they see fit.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1201A80Students have to answer 1 out of 3 unseen essay questions (70%), and 3 out of 3 unseen short-answer questions (10% each)
Oral Presentation151M20In class presentation. Presentation will be 10-20 minutes depending upon student numbers.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The unseen exam will assess (1) students’ understanding of the principles of neuropsychology; (2) their ability to critically interpret case studies covered in lectures and tutorials; and (3) their abilities to generalize knowledge to new case studies not covered during the course of the module (ILO 1-4).

The individual presentations will provide students (1) the opportunity to research their own case study; (2) the opportunity to critique other peoples’ interpretations; (3) the opportunity to practice oral presentation; and (4) receive feedback.

FMS Schools offering Semester One modules available as ‘Study Abroad’ will, where required, provide an alternative assessment time for examinations that take place after the Christmas vacation. Coursework with submissions dates after the Christmas vacation will either be submitted at an earlier date or at the same time remotely.

The form of assessment will not vary from the original.

Reading Lists