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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Essentials of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences 2nd ed. by Stuart C. Yudofsky, Robert E. Hales (American Psychiatric Publishing) This new edition of the Essentials of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences reflects the significant revisions in the 5th edition of The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, published in 2008. Like its predecessor, this volume distills the critical information presented in exhaustive detail in the Textbook to create an accessible, comprehensible, and portable resource for front-line clinicians and psychiatry and neurology residents preparing for the formidable American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology certification examination. Abridged, yet undiminished in its utility, the book functions as a subspecialty reference that details assessment techniques and the full range of treatment options for patients with neuropsychiatric disorders. A concise opening chapter on Fundamentals of Cellular Neurobiology provides the reader with the scientific framework necessary to understand fully and contextualize the chapters on specific disorders and treatments that follow. Essentials of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences is an efficient yet comprehensive learning tool for both the basics and the advanced techniques on the leading edge of this swiftly expanding field.

Neuropsychology: Clinical and Experimental Foundations by Lorin Elias, Deborah Saucier (Allyn & Bacon) Combining a unique organizational approach with an engaging writing style, Neuropsychology: Clinical and Experimental Foundations offers a comprehensive and reader-friendly introduction to the functions of the brain. Chapters take a functional perspective, weaving together discussions on intact and dysfunctional systems. Lorin Elias and Deborah Saucier address critical issues in the field, including neuroanatomy, sensation and perception, memory, and emotion. The text also incorporates helpful pedagogical features, including Real World and Current Controversy boxes as well as self-tests and internal previews and reviews, all of which are valuable tools for teaching and learning. Thorough and up-to-date, Neuropsychology: Clinical and Experimental Foundations is the ideal text to introduce students to the dynamic workings of the brain.

Like so many textbooks, this one was born out of frustration rather than a deep de­sire to spend years working on a project of this scale. Both of the authors were teaching neuroscience courses with the available textbooks. Most neuroscience textbooks separate dis­cussions of structure and function, often by hundreds of pages. Even worse, most discuss intact functional systems in one chapter but detail what happens when the system is broken in a different chapter. This type of organization makes the material more difficult to learn and more difficult to teach.

A second frustration that they perceived was that the available neuropsychology textbooks generally fell into two groups: those that emphasized clinical neuropsychology and those that emphasized experimental neuropsychology. Neither one of these perspectives is more important than the other, and ideally, the two perspectives should be balanced within the same book.

The authors were fond of many of the features that are commonly included with current introductory psychology textbooks, such as interim summaries, self-tests, and sections that related the material to the student's daily life. They decided that a neuroscience text­book should become available with these same beneficial features. Eventually, they chose to try to create a book that was well organized, balanced, and easy to read and relate to.

They took a primarily functional approach when organizing this book, grouping most of the chapters by functions such as visual perception, language, and memory. Within each chapter, they discuss both intact and lesioned/dysfunctional systems (e.g., discussing the visual perceptual system and visual agnosias within the same chap­ter). Further, each chapter is organized into two or three related, self-contained mod­ules. Each module opens with a brief description of what is to come in the module, and each module ends with a summary of the significant concepts contained within the subunit. Although this approach is not unique in psychology textbooks, these features do not appear within the currently available neuropsychology textbooks. In terms of balance, the authors sought to incorporate representative clinical and experimental content.

There are a number of features that appear throughout the book. These are meant to engage, to inform, and, in some cases, to help students study as they read the book.

Neuropsychological Celebrity: Some neuroscience textbooks feature interviews with "neuroscience celebrities," namely, researchers who have made major contribu­tions to their field of study. However, the authors believe that neuropsychology is unique in that the real celebrities are not the researchers, but the remarkable people whom neuropsychologists study. So much of neuropsychology has been founded on famous case studies (see the two volumes of Code et al.'s Classic Cases in Neuro­psychology for more examples). They have provided descriptions of topical case stud­ies in most chapters to engage the student and put a human face on the conditions (abilities and disabilities) being described.

The Real World: These feature boxes focus on questions drawn from real-life and familiar experiences. Each feature box is directly related to the material in the chap­ter in which it appears and is meant to make the material relevant to the student's own life. For an example, see the "Real World" section in Chapter 10 about how people give directions to others.

Current Controversy: These feature boxes highlight more general questions in neuropsychology. The questions include ethical issues, more general philosophical is­sues, and issues of current debate in neuropsychology. They are meant to enhance critical thinking with respect to issues in neuropsychology, to integrate the mate­rial among the chapters and modules, to place the study of neuropsychology within society, and to help the student develop a larger perspective of brain and brain func­tion. For an example, see the discussion of nutriceuticals in Chapter 7.

Self-Tests: These short quizzes are designed to help gauge mastery of the material, encourage independent learning, and enhance critical thinking skills. Two to four quizzes appear in most chapters, and answers to the questions can be found in the instructor's manual.


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