So You Want to Be a Neuropsychologist? - Jenni Ogden


Research as a Neuropsychologist

Of course, you can always focus on research, rather than clinical practice. If that is your aim, you'll be joining one of the most cutting-edge research arenas of today and the future. Discovering how the human mind works is truly the ultimate frontier. However, to be a great neuropsychology researcher you'll still need to be a good clinician—putting people at ease, listening to your research participants and their family members, caring about how your participants feel and responding to those feelings with respect. (This means putting your participants ahead of your research goals: If one has a headache and feels unwell the day their functional MRI scan is scheduled, you'll need to have a backup plan—perhaps you can test another patient that day.) Respecting your participants is also good research practice. An unwell patient is not going to give valid and reliable results on your tests.

Clinical neuropsychologists can choose many different careers. Some primarily work in the area of neuropsychological assessment where they test different client populations. They may be based in a school, a hospital, a rehabilitation setting, assessing accident victims for insurance purposes, or in a private practice. They may specialize in adults, children, the elderly, forensic neuropsychology, or in assessing minority cultures. Other neuropsychologists become involved in the rehabilitation of patients with neurological disorders. Often they work in a multidisciplinary team, planning and putting into practice rehabilitation programmes that include neuropsychology, speech pathology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, vocational training, and individual, group, and family psychological therapy. Other neuropsychologists become clinical supervisors and teachers or work in policy planning.

I was fortunate to assume most of these roles in my career, and in this blog I invite you to join me as I talk about some of the amazing and courageous "patients" I have worked with, as well as what I and others have learned about the brain and how to cope when something goes wrong with it.

Dr. Jenni Ogden is the author of Fractured Minds: A Case-Study Approach to Clinical Neuropsychology and Trouble In Mind: Stories from a Neuropsychologist's Casebook. Her recently published debut novel A Drop in the Ocean touches on Huntington’s Disease (and marine turtle conservation!) Visit her at and read her Psychology Today blog.