- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press (August 12, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195329406
- ISBN-13: 978-0195329407
- Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.8 x 6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #538,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The New Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes in a Complex World
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"It is only now... that we are beginning to get the full measure of complexity [of the living body], to see how nature and culture interact, and how brain and mind produce each other. There are a handful, a small handful, of remarkable books which address these central problems with great force - those of Gerald Edelman and Antonio Damasio at once come to mind - and to this select number, Elkhonon Goldberg's book, The Executive Brain, should surely be added." -- Oliver Sacks, The New York Review of Books
"Anyone who is interested in the workings of the brain, 'science's last frontier', will enjoy reading The Executive Brainâ The author's use of personal narrative and compelling metaphors help to make even the most technical information accessible to the general audience." -- Science Editor
"Goldberg is a good example of someone who seems to have always thought out of the box in both his personal and professional life. He has thus written a fine accessible book on executive brain functions... One does not have to completely agree with a position to be stimulated by it, and Goldbergâs book is certainly stimulating." -- Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books
"An intriguing exploration of the most challenging topic in cognitive neuroscience, the executive function of the prefrontal cortex." -- American Scientist
"...develop[s] insights into a variety of conditions and dispositions, including specific brain injuries, drug effects, sex differences, schizophrenia, acttention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and more. An especially informative chapter deals with cognitive rehabilitation, including what can be done to stave off dementia. Goldberg also finds parallels between the evolution of the brain and the fates of political systems, including the collapse of the Soviet Union and the assertion of ethnic identities throughout the world...This is a ruminative book...often laced with revealing anecdotes."--PsycCRITIQUES
"Goldberg successfully uses clinical cases to emphasize this point in the middle chapters. He also offers clear and generally accessible analogies that elucidate the role of the frontal lobes in everyday life. In earlier chapters, however, he introduces a number of elaborate theories relating intricate neuroanatomical and neurochemical systems (extending well beyond the frontal lobes) to complex cognitive processes; and, in later chapters, he goes "inside the black box" as he devises advanced computational-neuroscience models of his ideas. Throughout his book, he successfully presents "a distinctly personal, original, and at times provocative viewpoint on a number of topics in neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience...many of [these points] remain distinctly partisan, controversial, my own"." -- Tara T. Lineweaver, Ph.D. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences
About the Author
Elkhonon Goldberg, Ph.D. is Clinical Professor of Neurology, New York University School of Medicine. He was a student of the great Russian neuropsychologist Alexander Luria, and is the author of The Executive Brain and The Wisdom Paradox.
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Top customer reviews
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Goldberg presented his views about right-left brain decades ago, with the right brain addressing novelty, and the left brain, subroutines. He is right that his landmark papers got less attention than they deserved at the time, but this book will correct that injustice somewhat. Goldberg is now in private practice, and unfortunately, others will need to do some of the research.
I was especially interested in the tests that he developed, especially the Cognitive Bias Test. He has another test, which is sold, that recapitulates his mentor's (Luria's) tests, but the Cognitive Bias Test is truly his, and is in press according to his CV.
I also was interested in some of his case studies, especially the horseman who had a mesencephalic injury. The "higher" functions of brainstem and cerebellar structures has been an idea that has emerged, and it would have been nice if Goldberg had developed the thought a little more and credited some of the others working in that area such as Jeremy Schamhmann and colleagues.
One criticism of the book is that it tends to ramble, and could have used more editing to remove typos that kept unctously irritating my right frontal lobe and basal ganglia.
I learned a tremendous amount from this book and I thank Dr. Goldberg for writing it.
I am not a scientist and I admittedly struggled with the book so this review will be written from the point of view of a naive reader -- i.e. I am fairly familiar with some of the sciences, but not neuroscience. Be forewarned: the vocabulary/terminology used throughout this book can be overwhelming, even intimidating, not at times, but frequently. The depth of the ideas is quite deep. That the mind is what the brain does is probably the highest level statement that one can make, it is the "Open Sesame," to a world of astonishing complexity, beauty, and fragility. There is so much here in fact that a single reading will hardly do it justice. I had read another book by Goldberg, The Wisdom Paradox, found it accessible and loved it. It really has affected my life for the better. But this book is a whole order of magnitude beyond that. What Goldberg does, in addition to providing glimpses into his fascinating life (the man really needs to write an autobiography) -- unless you are a neuro-scientist -- is completely blow apart (the weak verb "deconstruct" hardly does it justice) every preconception and stale idea you may have on how the brain works. I have a strong interest in autism, for example, and this was the first book that gave me the beginning of an understanding as to why there are so many more males than females with the condition. I mention that in particular because if you are a PC reader, you may not be happy with this book. But Goldberg is fearless which makes for not only fascinating (and in regards to some of the case studies, heartbreaking) reading but thrilling as well.
So who might want to read this, other than specialist? Readers of Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor's "My Stroke of Insight" might want to give it a go as might people who enjoy Oliver Sack's works, but again be forewarned: this book is the real deal. Prepare to spend time with it. For the most part the author speaks to the reader as he would to a colleague. This is quite different from most science books these days. I think the primary audience are those who A) really want to understand how the brain works (at least as much as current science can tell us) or B) those who are involved in caretaker situations, e.g. autistic people, people with strokes or who have suffered head injuries (as Dr. Goldberg informs us, there are yearly 2 million TBIs -- Traumatic Brain Injuries -- in American alone). So what are you waiting for?
As for negatives, there are a couple. The book has some typoes. There aren't many and they aren't serious but they are there. Presumably they will be removed from future editions. The other is that towards the end of the book Dr. Goldberg lets himself get carried away with an analogy, what one might term the neuromorphic view of how human societies will evolve in the future. It's mildly diverting but questionable -- neurons do not have intentionality as we think of it in human terms, so the science of human action is ignored, rendering his speculations dubious at best. Worse is his primary source: he states (p. 279): "My favorite newspaper, the New York Times, has provided me with the necessary polemic ammunition." Oh dear. Someone should have warned him. But this sort of thing happens. Even the great Einstein, when he wandered into the areas of global disarmament and world government, wrote stuff that would have been viewed as crankish if it had come from anyone else.
I'm trusting, Dr. Goldberg, despite my criticism, would not mind the comparison with Einstein.