PsycCRITIQUES. Vol 55(6),2010, No Pagination Specified.
Reviews the book, The new executive brain: Frontal lobes in a complex world by Elkhonon Goldberg (see record 2009-12340-000). This book reflects Goldberg's primary interest in executive function and the role of the frontal lobes in decision making. A pervading theme is the distinction between what he terms veridical decision making, which depends on discovering facts (such as the state of one's bank account), and actor-centered decision making, which is a matter of determining one's preference (such as how to spend whatever is left in the bank account). Veridical decisions depend primarily on the posterior cortex and actor-centered ones on the frontal lobes. Another theme derives from his criticism of the notion, still popular in some circles, that the mind is composed of independent modules, each dedicated to some specific subtask. He prefers instead the notion of cognitive gradients, whereby one cognitive function blends into another across the cortical surface. A third theme is hemispheric specialization. Such broad themes allow Goldberg to develop insights into a variety of conditions and dispositions, including specific brain injuries, drug effects, sex differences, schizophrenia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and more. This is a ruminative book, sometimes rambling and speculative but often laced with revealing anecdotes. Goldberg's Russian experience and long tenure as a neuropsychologist in the United States provide a valuable historical perspective, and most of the ideas in the book are ones that he has previously developed.