- On 18/12/2016
New developments in the diagnosis and rehabilitation of neuropsychological disorders
The third edition of the Leuven Neuropsychology Workshop was successfully held on Friday the 16th and Saturday the 17th of September, 2016, with supporting grants from the FWO, the FNRS and the Doctoral School for the Humanities and Social Sciences (KU Leuven). The workshop attracted over 100 participants, the majority of which came from within Belgium, but the workshop had a clear international appeal with a number of colleagues also coming from the UK and the Netherlands. Importantly, the joint funding from the FWO and FNRS also led to an event that was well attended by both the Flemish and French-speaking Neuropsychology community with attendees from most major Belgian universities (KU Leuven, Universiteit Gent, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Universiteit Antwerpen, Université Catholique de Louvain, Université de Liège). In addition to researchers based in universities, we liaised with the Flemish Society for Neuropsychology (Vlaamse Vereniging voor Neuropsychologie), which allowed us to attract a large number of active clinicians.
From our invited talks to submitted talks and poster presentations, the workshop provided an excellent overview of recent developments in the screening, the diagnosis and the rehabilitation of neuropsychological deficits. On Friday 16 September, our invited speakers updated us on cutting-edge rehabilitation techniques targeting specific cognitive functions, such as web-based interventions (Dr. Alexander Leff: “Digital neuro-interventions: development, trial and roll-out”), brain stimulation (Dr. Dario Cazzoli: “Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) as a complementary approach for hemispatial neglect”) and mental imagery (Dr. Kristine Oostra: “Mental practice through motor imagery in gait rehabilitation poststroke”). Complementary to the rehabilitation tools targeting specific cognitive functions, Dr. Andrew Bateman outlined the principles of holistic rehabilitation, aimed at allowing people with neuropsychological deficits to achieve their maximum potential in the domains psychological, social, leisure, vocational or everyday function. Other targeted rehabilitation protocols, such as neurofeedback, psychopharmacological interventions and cerebellar stimulation, were presented in more detail during the presentations of the abstracts selected from the open call.
On Saturday 17 September, the presentations covered recent developments in the screening or detailed assessment of neuropsychological deficits. Our invited speakers informed us about screening tools for cognitive deficits in stroke survivors (Dr. Nele Demeyere: ‘Advances in cognitive screening’) and protocols for revealing short-term memory deficits (Dr. Steve Majerus: ‘What have we learnt from neuropsychology about the structure and function of short-term memory?’). Other developments in the diagnosis of neuropsychological deficits, such as the importance of using computerized tests and the added value of structural and functional neuroimaging, were covered during the submitted talks and poster presentation. We have added the full program as an attachment in appendix, which further details the content of the workshop and provides a list of participants. In addition to standard talk and poster presentations, we also included a ‘Meet the Experts’ roundtable with the invited speakers, to discuss issues in the field of neuropsychology. Specific topics included the role of neuropsychological assessment in the diagnosis of neurological syndromes (pathology) as well as the importance on focusing on construct (pure cognitive processes) versus ecological validity (functioning in daily life) when designing rehabilitation protocols.
This workshop was the third Neuropsychology workshop that we have organized here in Leuven (the first and second being in 2010 and 2013). The positive feedback from clinicians and researchers who attended the workshop has led us to the conclusion that we continue to build on the momentum we have established thus far by offering to organize a fourth meeting in 2018, with the possibility of turning this into a bi-annual conference.
Céline Gillebert, Hanne Huygelier and Johan Wagemans