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:
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:
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.