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Neurology is a branch of medicine dealing with the nervous system and its disorders. Physicians specializing in the field of neurology are called neurologists. Surgery on the nervous system is performed by physicians with specialized training - neurosurgeons, and in some cases, interventional neuroradiologists.


Field of work

Neurological disorders are disorders that affect the central nervous system (brain, brainstem and cerebellum), the peripheral nervous system (peripheral nerves - cranial nerves) included), or the autonomic nervous system (parts of which are located in both central and peripheral nervous system).

Major conditions include:

Clinical tasks

General caseload

Neurologists are responsible for diagnosing and treating all of the above conditions, except for surgical interventions, which fall into the responsibility of neurosurgeons, and in some cases interventional neuroradiologists. In some countries, additional legal responsibilities of a neurologist include making a finding of brain death when it is suspected that a patient is deceased, and filing the necessary paperwork for issuance of a death certificate. Neurologists frequently care for people with hereditary (genetic) disease when the major manifestations are neurologic, as is frequently the case.

Neurologists may specialize in neurophysiology, the field responsible for electroencephalography (EEG), nerve conduction studies (NCS) and electromyography (EMG) as well as visual evoked potential (VEP) testing. Others may develop an interest in particular subfields, such as the movement disorders, headaches, epilepsy or neuromuscular disease.

Overlap with psychiatry

Although many mental illnesses are believed to be neurological disorders affecting the central nervous system, traditionally they are classified separately, and treated by psychiatrists. In a 2002 review article in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Professor Joseph B. Martin, Dean of Harvard Medical School and a neurologist by training, wrote that 'the separation of the two categories is arbitrary, often influenced by beliefs rather than proven scientific observations. And the fact that the brain and mind are one makes the separation artificial anyway.' (Martin JB. The integration of neurology, psychiatry and neuroscience in the 21st century. Am J Psychiatry 2002; 159:695-704)

There are strong indications that neuro-chemical mechanisms play an important role in the development of, for instance, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. As well, 'neurological' diseases often have 'psychiatric' manifestations, such as post-stroke depression, depression and dementia associated with Parkinson's disease, mood and cognitive dysfunctions in Alzheimer's disease, to name a few. Hence, there is no sharp distinction between neurology and psychiatry on a biological basis - this distinction has mainly practical reasons and strong historical roots (such as the dominance of Freud's psychoanalytic theory in psychiatric thinking in the first three quarters of the 20th century - which has since then been largely replaced by the focus on neurosciences - aided by the tremendous advances in genetics and neuroimaging recently.)

External links

See also

Health scienceMedicine
Anesthesiology | Dermatology | Emergency Medicine | General practice | Intensive care medicine | Internal medicine | Neurology | Obstetrics & Gynecology | Pediatrics | Podiatry | Public Health & Occupational Medicine | Psychiatry | Radiology | Surgery
Branches of Internal medicine
Cardiology | Endocrinology | Gastroenterology | Hematology | Infectious diseases | Nephrology | Oncology | Pulmonology | Rheumatology
Branches of Surgery
General surgery | Cardiothoracic surgery | Neurosurgery | Ophthalmology | Organ Transplantation | Orthopedic surgery | Otolaryngology (ENT) | Pediatric surgery | Plastic surgery | Podiatric surgery | Urology | Vascular surgery

da:Neuromedicin de:Neurologie es:Neurología fr:Neurologie he:נוירולוגיה ga:Néareolaíocht it:Neurologia nl:Neurologie no:Nevrologi ja:神経学 pl:Neurologia pt:Neurologia sv:Neurologi zh:神經學 el:νευρολογία

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