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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: David O. Staats, MD (University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center)
Description: This is the second edition of a multiauthored textbook on dementing illnesses first published in 1994.
Purpose: The purpose of this book is to show the spectrum of dementing illnesses, how they evolve through time, and what their nature is: contrasting, overlapping, and differentiating.
Audience: This is not a book for beginners; it is not a primer of dementing illnesses. Rather, it is for those who have advanced knowledge about dementing illnesses, who can grasp the challenges of differentiating one from another. I think that this book is aimed at neurologists, psychologists, and psychiatrists and basic science researchers in the areas of dementing illnesses. All the authors are experts in the field.
Features: New in this book are discussions of how HIV-AIDS dementia fits into the spectrum of dementing illnesses and a new model of the unraveling of memory and higher cortical functions that accompanies dementing illnesses. The discussions about what separates normal age-related changes in cognitive function from "mild cognitive impairment" to frank dementing illnesses is thoughtfully portrayed and thorough. The discussions about what the nature of vascular dementias, their antecedent "preinfarction state" is also quite on the mark.
Assessment: This is unlike any other book in the areas that it covers. The clinical synopses at the ends of the chapters are a little superficial. At times the beauty of the conceptualization is like viewing a Turner landscape; at other times the writing borders on the verbose. This book draws together much difficult information together and shows how much work is left to be done. That it emphasizes how dementing illnesses evolve over time is much to its credit.