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Watt, D.F. (2010). Leonard F. Koziol & Deborah Ely Budding: Subcortical Structures and Cognition: Implications for Neuropsychological Assessment. Newark, NJ: Springer, 2009. ISBN 978-0-387-84866-2 (hbk.), 381 pp., $125.. Neuropsychoanalysis, 12(1):100-102.

(2010). Neuropsychoanalysis, 12(1):100-102

Leonard F. Koziol & Deborah Ely Budding: Subcortical Structures and Cognition: Implications for Neuropsychological Assessment. Newark, NJ: Springer, 2009. ISBN 978-0-387-84866-2 (hbk.), 381 pp., $125.

Review by:
Douglas F. Watt

Although this book would not generally be thought of as having a direct bearing on the relationship between psychoanalysis and neuroscience, I am giving it a review in the Journal for several reasons. First of all, the book is very well written and well organized. Second, it offers a badly needed corrective to corticocentric concepts in neuropsychology of “executive functions” and gives a more balanced and vertically integrated view of what the central neuropsychological concept of “executive functions” might really mean in neural-system terms. The fundamental notion of executive functions is clearly one of the more central bridges between psychoanalysis and neuroscience, and elucidation of the current thinking about this concept from the neuroscience side of the border is critical to better bridge building between the disciplines of psychoanalysis and neuroscience. Clearly, the concept of executive functions has become both central to neuropsychology and a touchstone concept for neuroscience investigations of behavior. Unfortunately, my discipline, clinical neuropsychology, has tended to “cognize” the concept, leading students and the more suggestible among us to believe that all aspects of behavior are cognitively organized, and it has also encouraged a second closely related misconception—namely, that all aspects of executive functions are organized in the cortex. Both of these assumptions are very questionable. “Underneath” the more cognitive aspects of executive functions (classically defined as planning, task organization, working memory, cognitive flexibility and set shifting, and cognitive inhibition of automatic modes of responding) and interdigitating with this large group of cognitive operations sit more affective aspects of executive functions.

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