Clinical Neuropsychology Specialization

A Clinical Neuropsychologist is a psychologist who applies principles of assessment and intervention based upon the scientific study of human behavior as it relates to normal and abnormal functioning of the central nervous system (The Clinical Neuropsychologist 1989, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp.22). As such, training in clinical neuropsychology is extensive and draws from a broad range of fields including clinical psychology, behavioral neurology, cognitive psychology, biological psychology, and cognitive neuroscience.

At Simon Fraser University, students who desire training in clinical neuropsychology apply to the Clinical Training Stream. Those accepted receive the full complement of general clinical training experiences to prepare them as scientist-practioners capable of conducting sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic work.

In addition, clinical neuropsychology students are required to complete four Area Courses as well as a practicum experience in clinical neuropsychology. These requirements are detailed below.

Coursework in Clinical Neuropsychology

Cognitive Neuroscience (PSYC 980a): In this course, consideration will be given to the human central nervous systems that control and regulate higher order complex behavior. The neurobiological substrates of memory, language, attention, perception and emotion are considered. Concepts will be evaluated on the basis of data gathered from studies of healthy persons and individuals who have sustained brain injury. For clinical students, the course objective is to provide an introduction to the cognitive neuroscience foundation of neuropsychology.

Functional Human Neuroanatomy: CNS Systems (UBC Anatomy 516): This course surveys the structure of the human CNS. It contains both a lecture series on CNS structure and a laboratory component. The course is offered through the University of British Columbia's Anatomy Department.

Neuropsychological Assessment (PSYC 806): This is an introductory course in clinical neuropsychological assessment intended for graduate students in clinical psychology who have received at least one semester of graduate training in basic psychological assessment and have acquired an adequate foundation in brain-behavioural relationships. The major focus of this course is on developing a conceptual grasp of the logic and purpose of neuropsychological evaluation and in acquiring the basic neuropsychological assessment skills.

Neurocognitive Disorders (PSYC 980b): This course focuses on neurocognitive and behavioral aspects of major brain disorders and syndromes. Specifically, this course examines the pathological, cognitive, and behavioral features of several brain disorders (e.g., closed head injury, multiple sclerosis, dementia) and brain-based syndromes (e.g., aphasia, apraxia, amnesia).

Additional Recommended Courses

Neuropsychology of Recovery of Function and Rehabilitation (PSYC 807): The course is offered to clinical psychology graduate students seeking an introduction to the issue of recovery of function and rehabilitation in brain injured patients. The course covers the processes that modulate neuronal and functional recovery following brain injury. Theoretical processes and interventions that are designed to facilitate and maximize recovery of function and accommodation to functional disabilities and handicaps are also discussed.

Cognitive Aging (PSYC 925): This course reviews recent findings from cognitive neuroscience examining functional consequences of brain changes in normal and pathological aging. Topics will include: methods for assessing the aging brain, aging of the central nervous system, normal/neuropathological brain aging, and aging of higher-order cognitive processes (information processing, attention, intelligence, learning/memory, language, and executive functions).

Practicum and Placement Experiences

Clinical practicum (PSYC 880) in neuropsychological assessment: This required practicum that provides the basic practical skills in test administration.

Additional required practicum in neuropsychological assessment: Clinical neuropsychology students are also required to take an additional neuropsychological practicum at a recommended site (e.g., VGH, RVH). This additional practicum may be essential for students intending to be competitive for internships offering clinical neuropsychology specialization. This practicum may or may not be paid.

Research Training

Students seeking clinical neuropsychology specialization are expected to acquire research skills that prepare them to conduct the highest quality independent investigations. Indeed, we anticipate that many students in the specialization will pursue research careers in academic departments and medical centers.

Clinical neuropsychology students at SFU receive much of their research training through the faculty of the Cognitive and Biological Psychology Area. These clinical and experimental investigators are focused on advancing insights into the biological basis of cognition and behavior. Their investigations involve experimental analysis of animal behavior, animal lesion models, psychopharmacology and endocrinology, structural and functional mapping of the human brain, psychometric assessment and the application of experimental cognitive paradigms to healthy individuals and individuals with neurologic and psychiatric disorders.

The Cognitive and Biological Area faculty who are affiliated with clinical neuropsychological training are listed below with their research interests.

Affiliated Faculty

Name Stream Research Interests
Bowman, Marilyn Clinical Neuropsychology, coping with distressing life events, individual differences in cognitive abilities
Kimura, Doreen -- Biological influences on human cognitive and motor skills
McDonald, John Experimental Cognitive neuroscience, including electrophysiological measures of human perception and attention
Thornton, Allen Clinical Adult neuropsychological assessment, neurocognitive disorders in medical and psychiatric patients, neuropsychology of memory
Thornton, Wendy Clinical Cognitive aging, dementia, adult neuropsychology, everyday problem solving and executive functions
Watson, Neil Experimental Molecular neurobiology of reproductive behaviour, psychopharmacology, human neuropsychology

Please contact any of the clinical neuropsychology faculty for further information regarding the clinical neuropsychology specialization. You may also wish to view our department's web site (

09 July 2004

Contact Information:
SFU Psychology

RCB 5246-8888 University Drive
Burnaby BC, Canada V5A 1S6
Phone: 604-291-3354 | Fax: 604-291-3427

Copyright 2002 - 2003.
All rights reserved.