Our research team are keen to keep up with exciting neuropsychology events near us. A “not to miss” event coming up is the Division of Neuropsychology’s (DoN) Annual Networking Event on the 26th January. The keynote speaker is Dr Brian O’Neill, our consultant at Graham Anderson House, who will be presenting on the ‘Technological innovations in neuro-rehabilitation: a lifespan perspective’.
Later in the year, the spring 2018 British Neuropsychological Society (BNS) meeting and joint symposium with the DoN are taking place on the 27th and 28th April. The programme is now available here.
These meetings are always packed full of presentations by national and international researchers. In spring 2017, we attended the joint meeting of the BNS and the DoN where speakers spanned from Cambridge to Italy and Australia. The presentations were on a variety of topics including gesturing and sign-language, dementia and neuropsychological tests of executive functioning. The joint symposium included talks from members on executive functioning. Of note was Professor Paul Burgess’ talk on functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS); this is a neuroimaging technique that uses near-infrared light to monitor brain activity. Professor Burgess discussed that the advantage of using this technology is that it is portable and thus allows for real-life applications. This innovative neuroimaging technique lends itself to considerable future applications for investigating both healthy and injured brains.
The last speaker of the day was Dr Tanya Denmark from King’s College London. She reported on the use of a new non-immersive virtual reality assessment: the Jansari Assessment of Executive Functioning (JEF; Jansari et al., 2014) which is designed to mimic real life situations, such as carrying out office work or organising a children’s birthday party. The JEF comprises of situations that require completion of a number of real-life tasks in order to measure underlying constructs such as planning, prioritisation, creativity and prospective memory. It aims to increase the ecological validity and sensitivity. The researchers concluded the talk by discussing with the audience the role of VR in neuropsychological assessment, and suggested that it would not necessarily replace standard neuropsychological tests, but would certainly have a role in complementing them. Although research is still ongoing to establish the concurrent validity of the JEF, it has the potential to become a valuable tool to assess everyday executive abilities in neurorehabilitation settings.