Adult clinical neuropsychology: lessons from studies of the frontal lobes

Annu Rev Psychol. 2002;53:401-33. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.53.100901.135220.

Abstract

Clinical neuropsychologists have adopted numerous (and sometimes conflicting) approaches to the assessment of brain-behavior relationships. We review the historical development of these approaches and we advocate an approach to clinical neuropsychology that is informed by recent findings from cognitive neuroscience. Clinical assessment of executive and emotional processes associated with the frontal lobes of the human brain has yet to incorporate the numerous experimental neuroscience findings on this topic. We review both standard and newer techniques for assessment of frontal lobe functions, including control operations involved in language, memory, attention, emotions, self-regulation, and social functioning. Clinical and experimental research has converged to indicate the fractionation of frontal subprocesses and the initial mapping of these subprocesses to discrete frontal regions. One anatomical distinction consistent in the literature is that between dorsal and ventral functions, which can be considered cognitive and affective, respectively. The frontal lobes, in particular the frontal poles, are involved in uniquely human capacities, including self-awareness and mental time travel.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology
  • Attention / physiology
  • Cognition Disorders / complications
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Decision Making
  • Empathy
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Language Disorders / complications
  • Language Disorders / physiopathology
  • Memory Disorders / complications
  • Memory Disorders / physiopathology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Self Concept
  • Wit and Humor as Topic