Sunday, 1 August 2010

Translational neuropsychology

Be prepared – but how prepared?

The World Congress in Hong Kong this December promises to throw together a novel range of people. Slowly they begin to declare themselves on the Pre-congress Social Networking Programme. Some I know, some I do not.

The same goes for some of the interests that they declare – some I know, some I do not. Here is one that I do not know, 'translational neuropsychology', which appears as part of a cluster of interests from a psychiatrist who will be there –

Interested in pervasive development disorder and other types of developmental disabilities or neurological impairments, neuroscience, developmental psychology and/or translational neuropsychology

So off to google the phrase – with uncharacteristic lack of success.

There is a single conference paper on the topic listed on Google ('The Common Marmoset and Translational Neuropsychology', from Zürich) but this seems no longer available. The word 'translational' seems to have a currency within cognitive behavior therapy, It is taught on US medical schools in the United States and you can even win a post-doctoral fellowship to study it. Even in that country, however, it seems to have won status as a byword for extreme specialism, hence part of a pseudonymous student's advice on ways to ingratiate oneself at admission interview:

Don't be so comprehensively prepared that you are citing the prof's obscure 1973 article published in the Eastern Appalachian Journal of Translational Neuropsychology ('LedZepp007').

Good advice, that. It would be a waste money to go all the way to Hong Kong without at least some preparation about who there will be concerned about what, and where and how. But how to strike the happy medium advised by Mr/s Zepp?

Translational neuropsychology offers a useful paradigm example. It certainly has me beat. Sunday breakfast calls yet translational neuropsychology still has me beat. What to do? Just one more quick thought: search for “translational neuropsychiatry”...



  1. Andrew,
    I assume "Gotcha!" means that you have found something, I did too. I discovered quite a few things in fact, but did you discover what it is? I did not actually find anything that explained to me what it is.

    I found things like this in an article about MS:

    " Finally, treatment pertaining to all these disorders is reviewed, with the observation that translational research has been found wanting when it comes to providing algorithms to guide clinicians. "

    and this:

    “Currently, as a collaboration between the Maastricht University and the University of Würzburg, he is investigating the role of Gene x Environment interactions, and its underlying epigenetic mechanisms, in the patho-physiology of psychiatric disorders like depression and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Along this line, he (and others) have recently launched an initiative at Maastricht University, which is referred to as ‘Translational Neuropsychiatry’, bringing together all divisions within the School for Mental Health and Neuroscience (MHeNS) in a collaborate approach to further investigate the neurobiology of psychiatric disorders in a translational setting. Besides research he is involved in teaching activities on topics related to the underlying biology of brain function and behaviour.”

    But all I could perhaps conclude was that translational could mean using knowledge of the medical history of a client, a holistic approach, looking at all symptoms and disorders before prescribing treatment. A bit like what András Petö writes about in the Unfug!

    Oh well, perhaps all will be revealed in Hong Kong, but then again perhaps not. I do not really have the time to spend hours asking Google to tell me, so I will have to wait and see.
    Unless of course there is anyone else who can reveal all before hand.

  2. The first of your quotations shows that this term has been around a longish time and comes from a Canadian journal from 2003 that is published in full on line This article relates to the hardly surprising phenomenon that multiple sclerosis can get you down, sometimes very much so, with all sorts of bad outcomes in psychological function (for some unexplained reasons the term 'neuropsychiatric' is preferred to 'psychological'). This is a review article, which suggests that psychiatrists and neurologists had not yet come up with anything useful to benefit the systemic psychological sequelae of having MS. Nor had 'translational' approaches:

    Unfortunately, however, the article assumes that its readers would already know what this means, indeed it features as a key word. I was guessing wildly, on the basis of minimal clues (e.g., from the abstract: '...neuropsychiatric sequelae add significantly to the morbidity associated with MS' ) to come up with my own working definition in the above paragraph.

    Oh dear, the second of your quotations of yours, the more recent ones, comes from the CV of a Dr Daniël van den Hove of Maastricht University. He looks cheery enough in his photograph:

    I see his attainments include being cruel to pregnant rodents to see how this affects the cheeriness of their offspring (I wonder how he might relate this to himself). This is the sort of thing that gets psychological research, rightly, a bad name, both conceptually and ethically.

    So.. obvious first port of call: Wikipedia. Try it:

    I must say that it does rather look to me a statement of the obvious necessary only to those entangled in the tentacles of their own misthought-out understandings of 'science'. I suspect, however, that for many such it will merely add a further layer of confusion.

    You do not have to invoke András Pető here. William of Ockham (1285-1349, not muchof an innings by nowsdays' standards) would do, though it goes back further.

    Or maybe, more recent and closer to your present home, Georg Hegel (1770-1831).

    Or try K. Marx, F. Engels, L. S. Vygotskii and co... and leave the translationalists to get on with the basis of trying to comprehend the long-discovered wheel.