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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Christopher J Graver, PhD, ABPP-CN(Madigan Healthcare System)
Description: This book introduces the concept of categorization and its fundamental nature in cognitive science through a wide variety of perspectives, but also provides a basis for future research. The coverage ranges from categorization in semantics to models in computer science to social categorization.
Purpose: The main purpose of this book is to bring together leading researchers in cognitive categorization to provide a multidisciplinary look at this phenomenon in a single volume.
Audience: The main audience for this book includes cognitive scientists from a variety of perspectives. It would also be appropriate for students of the cognitive sciences, as well as those in related disciplines (e.g., clinical, social, developmental, or personality psychology; linguistics; and education).
Features: The first striking feature of this book is its sheer size. At over one thousand pages, it certainly has the making of a handbook. Each chapter begins with a detailed breakdown of the topics covered, ensuring easy referencing. The chapters often start with a brief abstract and contain concluding remarks, which tie together the data presented in the chapters. There are tables and figures that handily summarize the data and the section on neurobiology includes neuroimaging to help visually pinpoint the structures being discussed. There also are color plates at the end of the text. Although this is a comprehensive book, each chapter is generally concise and direct in its coverage of the topic at hand. The relevant data are presented and supported by generally recent research with little duplication of material. One weakness of this book is the index, which is inadequate for a volume of this length.
Assessment: This is an encyclopedic look at categorization. The authors have achieved their goal of providing a multidisciplinary perspective on this topic and have done so in a comprehensive manner. Relevant and current information is presented at an appropriate level and the text provides such a wide range of topics that most anyone will find something of interest. Readers particularly interested in cognitive science will likely find the entire book appealing. Although the price is somewhat high, abundant thought and effort clearly went into this book and it should suffice for the main, and perhaps only, text needed on categorization in cognitive science.