Description: Attention is a core cognitive function, impacting all other functions of the brain. Recognized as a primary component of cognitive functioning in a variety of illnesses, it is thoroughly reviewed and explored in this book.
Purpose: The first edition was published in 1993 and this update is needed, given significant advances in our understanding of the construct.
Audience: The book is intended for neuropsychologists, cognitive neuroscientists, health psychologists, physicians, and educators.
Features: There are three main sections. The initial section, dedicated to foundations of attention, is a review of the cognitive neuroscience and physiology that underlies attention. It includes concepts, models, and frameworks for understanding attention functioning, as well as delineating disparate contributions of the variety of attentional types. These are defined and then explored with regard to historical concepts, changes in conceptualization over time, and future directions. These are accompanied by the usual thorough review of the literature with an outstanding array of references for each chapter, illustrative and educational figures, good organization, and cogent summaries. Some of the figures are in color when pertinent and overall the quality is reasonable even in grayscale. In the second section on the neuropsychology of attention, each of the brain areas is covered with respect to its involvement in attention. There are illustrative examples of test performance by patients, as well as additional instructive visual aids, such as gross anatomic slices of the brain. The section finishes with a review of attentional deficits in various neurological diseases, psychiatric disorders, and developmental disorders. The chapters in this second section are very clinically oriented and easily adaptable to test selection and interpretation in clinical practice with various conditions. The final section explores an integrated framework for understanding the roles of attention in various behavioral enigmas, such as consciousness and self-awareness. The work of key contributors to attentional models is detailed and reviewed, including preeminent scholars such as Posner, Mirsky, and Stuss. Readers will be interested to note expansions to this edition in the areas of neuroimaging, working memory, attentional problems in various disorders, testing for attention deficits, developmental origins of attention, and treatment. There are a couple of outstanding weaknesses that are not addressed in this edition. Despite treatment being a purported focus of the update and having a chapter with "treatment" in the title, that particular chapter contains no treatment information and readers must hunt for the treatment information in chapters on specific topics, making it difficult to find on a reference basis throughout the rest of the book. The other notable weakness is the review of tests for assessing attention. Some major tests mentioned, but there are some notable omissions. The chapter also has a scarce nod to some strengths and weaknesses of each test, but no clear clinical guidelines about what types of cases or situations they might be differentially useful. The references are incredibly detailed and inclusive, with many updated since the first edition, but the index is fairly limited for such a lengthy tome.
Assessment: Aside from some minor weaknesses that are not part of the main focus of the book, this is an excellent, comprehensive resource on nearly everything happening in the world of attention.