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Society for Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology

About SBCN

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About Behavioral Neurology

The specialty of Behavioral Neurology focuses on clinical and pathological aspects of neural processes associated with mental activity, subsuming cognitive functions, emotional states, and social behavior. Historically, the principal emphasis of Behavioral Neurology has been to characterize the phenomenology and pathophysiology of intellectual disturbances in relation to brain dysfunction, clinical diagnosis, and treatment. Representative cognitive domains of interest include attention, memory, language, high-order perceptual processing, skilled motor activities, and "frontal" or "executive" cognitive functions (adaptive problem-solving operations, abstract conceptualization, insight, planning, and sequencing, among others). Advances in cognitive neuroscience afforded by functional brain imaging techniques, electrophysiological methods, and experimental cognitive neuropsychology have nurtured the ongoing evolution and growth of Behavioral Neurology as a neurological subspecialty. Applying advances in basic neuroscience research, Behavioral Neurology is expanding our understanding of the neurobiological bases of cognition, emotions and social behavior. Although Behavioral Neurology and neuropsychiatry share some common areas of interest, the two fields differ in their scope and fundamental approaches, which reflect larger differences between neurology and psychiatry.

Behavioral Neurology encompasses three general types of clinical syndromes:

  1. diffuse and multifocal brain disorders affecting cognition and behavior (e.g. delirium and dementia),
  2. neurobehavioral syndromes associated with focal brain lesions (e.g. aphasia, amnesia, agnosia, apraxia), and
  3. neuropsychiatric manifestations of neurological disorders (e.g. depression, mania, psychoses, anxiety, personality changes, or obsessive-compulsive disorders, which may accompany diseases such as epilepsy, cerebrovascular disease, traumatic brain injury, or multiple sclerosis).

These syndromic categories may be etiologically subdivided into either primary (e.g. neurodegenerative) and secondary (e.g. systemic toxic-metabolic) brain disorders, or on the basis of developmental, inherited, or sporadic (acquired) mode of occurrence.

The clinical specialty of Behavioral Neurology requires a unique combination of knowledge and skills that are beyond the scope of a general neurologist, including expertise in:

  1. functional behavioral neuroanatomy, as applied in correlating clinical findings with structural and functional brain markers provided by neuroimaging and electrophysiological methods,
  2. administering and interpreting mental status examinations, including both neuropsychological and neuropsychiatric assessments, and
  3. the neurochemical bases and pharmacological management of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral disturbances.

As a supplement to these core areas of expertise in Behavioral Neurology, fundamental knowledge is required in the areas of epidemiology, natural history, developmental context (childhood and geriatric disorders), molecular genetics, pathophysiology, comprehensive clinical management, and prognosis that pertain across the range of neurobehavioral syndromes and disorders.