Description: The frontal lobes are an enormously important cog in the brain, and science has turned its attention increasingly to this fascinating structure in the last 25 years to better understand its function, dysfunction, and associated diseases.
Purpose: This review of the state of frontal lobe research is also a tribute to the work of Donald Stuss, a pioneering neuropsychologist and seminal researcher in this area.
Audience: This book is appropriate for anyone involved in brain research and clinical care from neuropsychology to neuroscience to behavioral neurology. Written at an advanced level, this book assumes close familiarity with neuroanatomic principles, functional neuroanatomy, and cognitive neuroscience. The editors and contributing authors are well-known contributors to the field.
Features: A historical overview begins the book, breaking down the major progress in frontal lobe understanding into three main eras spanning Harlow's work with Phineas Gage to Halstead's work in neuropsychology to Geschwind's work in neurology. Subsequent chapters explore different frontal lobe functions through various research tools and methodologies, sometimes combining these. The obligatory classic frontal lobe syndrome is presented in a case study, but this is quickly expanded to dismantle more subtle divisions of the frontal lobes. The discussion of neuropsychological tests and associated areas of dysfunction is married to functional neuroimaging data to strengthen the findings. Whereas the evidence is certainly compelling, the narrow focus on the frontal lobes has one major hindrance in that heteromodal association areas are not discussed in the context of the larger picture of brain functioning. The chapter on cognitive aging is one of the few that incorporates a whole brain perspective. The color plates in the middle of the book are a nice addition, but the color schemes are inconsistent and make interpretation more arduous than necessary. Additionally, many of the neuroimaging slides are small and difficult to decipher in the low-resolution gray-scale. References are reasonably current.
Assessment: With excellent state-of-the-science information, this is a much more concise and readable book than The Human Frontal Lobes, Miller and Cummings (Guilford Press, 2007). Additionally, it integrates multiple research methodologies and fields for a robust top-down view. This is a worthwhile, clinically relevant purchase.