The New Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes in a Complex World

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Elkhonon Goldberg's groundbreaking The Executive Brain was a classic of scientific writing, revealing how the frontal lobes command the most human parts of the mind. Now he offers a completely new book, providing fresh, iconoclastic ideas about the relationship between the brain and the mind.
In The New Executive Brain, Goldberg paints a sweeping panorama of cutting-edge thinking in cognitive neuroscience and neuropsychology, one that ranges far beyond the frontal lobes. Drawing on the latest discoveries, and developing complex scientific ideas and relating them to real life through many fascinating case studies and anecdotes, the author explores how the brain engages in complex decision-making; how it deals with novelty and ambiguity; and how it addresses moral choices. At every step, Goldberg challenges entrenched assumptions. For example, we know that the left hemisphere of the brain is the seat of language—but Goldberg argues that language may not be the central adaptation of the left hemisphere. Apes lack language, yet many also show evidence of asymmetric hemispheric development. Goldberg also finds that a complex interaction between the frontal lobes and the amygdale—between a recently evolved and a much older part of the brain—controls emotion, as conscious thoughts meet automatic impulses. The author illustrates this observation with a personal example: the difficulty he experienced when trying to pick up a baby alligator he knew to be harmless, as his amygdala battled his effort to extend his hand.
In the years since the original Executive Brain, Goldberg has remained at the front of his field, constantly challenging orthodoxy. In this revised and expanded edition, he affirms his place as one of our most creative and insightful scientists, offering lucid writing and bold, paradigm-shifting ideas.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...develop[s] insights into a variety of conditions and dispositions, including specific brain injuries, drug effects, sex differences, schizophrenia, acttention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and more. An especially informative chapter deals with cognitive rehabilitation, including what can be done to stave off dementia. Goldberg also finds parallels between the evolution of the brain and the fates of political systems, including the collapse of the Soviet Union and the assertion of ethnic identities throughout the world...This is a ruminative book...often laced with revealing anecdotes."—PsycCRITIQUES

"Goldberg successfully uses clinical cases to emphasize this point in the middle chapters. He also offers clear and generally accessible analogies that elucidate the role of the frontal lobes in everyday life. In earlier chapters, however, he introduces a number of elaborate theories relating intricate neuroanatomical and neurochemical systems (extending well beyond the frontal lobes) to complex cognitive processes; and, in later chapters, he goes "inside the black box" as he devises advanced computational-neuroscience models of his ideas. Throughout his book, he successfully presents "a distinctly personal, original, and at times provocative viewpoint on a number of topics in neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience...many of [these points] remain distinctly partisan, controversial, my own"." — Tara T. Lineweaver, Ph.D. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195329407
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 8/12/2009
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 475,934
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Elkhonon Goldberg, Ph.D. is Clinical Professor of Neurology, New York University School of Medicine. He was a student of the great Russian neuropsychologist Alexander Luria, and is the author of The Executive Brain and The Wisdom Paradox.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
2 An End and a Beginning: A Dedication 7
3 The Brain's Chief Executive: The Frontal Lobes at a Glance 21
4 Architecture of the Brain: A Primer 27
5 The Orchestra's Front Row: The Cortex 37
6 The Conductor: A Closer Look at the Frontal Lobes 69
7 Different Lobes for Different Folks: Decision-Making Styles and the Frontal Lobes 87
8 When the Leader Is Wounded 113
9 Social Maturity, Morality, Law, and the Frontal Lobes 139
10 Fateful Disconnections 157
11 "What Can You Do for Me?" 193
12 Frontal Lobes and the Leadership Paradox 215
Epilogue 227
References and Notes 231
Index 247
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