Cognitive neuropsychiatry is a growing multidisciplinary field arising out of cognitive psychology and neuropsychiatry that aims to understand mental illness and psychopathology in terms of models of normal psychological function. A concern with the neural substrates of impaired cognitive mechanisms links cognitive neuropsychiatry to the basic neuroscience. Alternatively, CNP provides a way of uncovering normal psychological processes by studying the effects of their change or impairment.
The term "cognitive neuropsychiatry” was coined by Prof Hadyn Ellis (Cardiff University ) in a paper “The cognitive neuropsychiatric origins of the Capgras delusion”, presented at the International Symposium on the Neuropsychology of Schizophrenia, Institute of Psychiatry, London (Coltheart, 2007).
Although clinically useful, current syndrome classifications (e.g. DSM-IV; ICD-10) have no empirical basis as models of normal cognitive processes. No neuropsychological accounts of how the brain ‘works’ would ever be complete without a cognitive level of analysis. CNP moves beyond diagnosis and classification to offer a cognitive explanation for established psychiatric behaviours, regardlessof whether the symptoms are due to recognized brain pathology or to dysfunction in brain areas or networks without structural lesions.
CNP has been influential, not least because of its early success in explaining some previously bizarre psychiatric delusions, most notably the Capgras delusion, Fregoli delusion and other delusional misidentification syndromes.
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