The Neuropsychology of Emotion. Borod, Joan C., Ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. xviii + 511. $69.50.
The topic of emotion in neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience is hot. The past several years have seen an exponential increase in the number of books dedicated solely to the topic of the biological bases of emotion. In this regard, the study of emotion as a legitimate area of scientific inquiry with a sizeable and growing literature has come into its own right and could very well be hitting its stride. This edited text brings together some of the top investigators in the field who collectively represent an interesting range of theoretical orientations and approaches to research in emotion. The final product is a scholarly, well-edited text that captures the momentum of growing interest in this area.
The organization of the text does an excellent job of covering both the overarching, broader questions relevant to this domain as well as the more specific questions, content areas, and theoretical models. The book is divided logically into five major sections: I) Introduction, II) Background and General Techniques, III) Theoretical Perspectives, IV) Emotional Disorders, and V) Clinical Implications. This organization lends itself well to a systematic approach to the topic of emotion for students or those relatively new to the area and also provides a convenient structure for others to target topics of particular interest.
The Introduction essentially provides a broad overview of the following four sections, summaries of chapters within those sections, directions for future research, and general considerations in research in emotion. This provides the overall structure of the text and highlights points of key interest within each chapter. Chapters in the Background and General Techniques section deal essentially with the broader questions as well as methodological issues and tools of research in this area. Chapters 2 and 3 cover the broader questions from philosophical and neuroanatomical perspectives, respectively. Chapter 2 presents an historical overview of philosophical approaches to emotion and a very interesting discussion of the epistemology of emotion and levels of knowledge that have received less attention to date in mainstream neuropsychological literature. Chapter 3 reviews the functional neuroanatomy of emotion and also presents an interesting approach to conceptualizing the vertical integration of these networks. Chapter 4 is focused on assessment of emotion and is coauthored by the editor of the text who has done much of the work in this area. Chapter 5 provides an excellent overview of more recently developed structural and functional imaging approaches to research in emotion that have fueled investigations in cognitive neuroscience.
Part III of the book is concerned primarily with broader theoretical orientations including psychological, social cognitive neuroscience, neurobiological/systems, and neuropsychological frameworks. These chapters represent the relatively wide range of approaches in the neuropsychology of emotion and provide an excellent frame of reference for the more specific models delineated in the following section. Part IV is focused on specific emotional disorders ranging from elation and mania, sadness and depression, anxiety and stress, violence associated with anger and impulsivity, and, lastly, apathy. Content within these chapters is theoretically driven and highlights models developed by each of the individual contributors. Part V is more clinical in its orientation and focuses on the clinical implications of emotional disorders in a variety of populations. Chapter 15 focuses primarily on neurological disorders and is coauthored by one of the pioneers in this area. Chapter 16 is an interesting chapter on rehabilitation of emotional deficits in neurological populations, an area with a relatively small but growing empirical literature. Emotional processing in schizophrenia is the central topic of chapter 17 and chapter 18 presents the range of intervention strategies utilized in treatment of mood disorders.
Information presented in this text is relevant to both applied as well as basic researchers in the areas of emotion, temperament, and psychopathology. The kind of interdisciplinary crosstalk that is necessary for investigation in the domain of emotion more broadly is well reflected in the content and contributors to this text. This book is also well suited to the needs of clinicians in its emphasis on the important link between research and assessment/intervention, and the last section of the book entitled “Clinical Implications” is of direct relevance to the issues and concerns of dealing with emotional disorders resulting from a wide range of etiologies.
The author has done an excellent job of avoiding the potential problems associated with any edited text. There is little redundancy of information across the different chapters, the transition from one section and one chapter to the next is logical and systematic, and the content within each chapter consistently fits well within the organizational frame of the text. The author’s stated aim is “to provide a basic textbook and reference work on emotion for the field of neuropsychology” (p. ix). This objective has surely been met with a final product that can be appreciated at multiple levels by novice and experienced alike.
Cynthia R. Cimino, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Departments of Psychology and Neurology, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida