This text represents the latest installment in the Contemporary Neuropsychology series edited by C.A. Noggle and R.S. Dean, which aims to provide state-of-the-science reviews of a variety of clinical topics as they relate to the science and clinical practice of neuropsychology. The Neuropsychology of Psychopathology examines a wide array of psychopathological conditions through the lens of clinical neuroscience by focusing on cognitive and neurobiological correlates of behavior. As outlined on the back cover, “the book is written for clinical professionals to increase diagnostic accuracy and intervention success, and to provide a way to approach psychopathologies as disorders of the neurological systems.” These goals are evident in the general structure and organization of the book, but the extent to which they are met varies across chapters.
The book is divided into three sections. Section I, “Principles of Psychopathology,” includes three chapters. Chapter 1 spans seven pages briefly reviewing the historical perspectives on psychopathology and the transition to a modern neurobiological perspective. Chapter 2 addresses differences between clinical presentations in adult and pediatric psychopathology with a focus on internalizing versus externalizing disorders. Chapter 3 reviews research into the neuroanatomy of pleasure and emotion. This section is clearly written and provides an important background for a reader unfamiliar with biological bases of emotion and psychopathology. In fact, this section could have been more extensive. Most notably, Chapter 3 focuses on “the functional neuroanatomy of pleasure and hedonic processing,” but no chapter focuses on processing of negatively valenced emotions or other emotional constructs (e.g., fear/anxiety, stress). Since psychopathology is not only associated with abnormal or absent processing of pleasures, but also with abnormally excessive processing of punishing stimuli or experience, such a chapter would have further enhanced this text. Additionally, a chapter on cognition, or on the relationship between affective and cognitive processing, may further facilitate the readers' understanding of psychopathology that presents with cognitive deficits.
Section II, “Forms of Psychopathology,” includes 17 chapters each meant to address the neuroscientific and neuropsychological aspects of a specific psychological disorder or class of disorders, including mood and anxiety disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, dementias, and personality disorders, among others. The majority of chapters share the same general format, allowing the reader to become relatively easily oriented to topics of interest within each chapter. Topic areas covered for each disorder include a brief introduction to the disorder, neuropathology and pathophysiology, neuropsychological features, diagnostic issues, and treatment. The chapter on autism spectrum disorders is a highlight of this text and offers an especially thorough review of the cognitive and neurological development in the disorder, describes methods of assessment, diagnosis, and treatment, and discusses neuropsychological findings organized by the cognitive domain. The chapters on obsessive-compulsive and post-traumatic stress disorders provide a similarly organized discussion of neuropsychological sequelae, which makes these chapters convenient for quick reference. Unfortunately, several chapters contain relatively little discussion of neuropsychology. This is understandable for some disorders (e.g., somatoform and personality disorders), as there is a relative paucity of literature on the neuropsychological features of these conditions. In contrast, there is a rich extant literature on neurocognitive features of Alzheimer's disease, which could provide the reader with important and clinically relevant information about patient presentation; yet, surprisingly, the chapter addressing this disorder neglects the neurocognitive literature and focuses virtually exclusively on pathophysiology.
Section III, “Interventions and Treatment,” includes three chapters addressing the assessment and treatment of psychopathology with a focus on neuropsychology. The first chapter in this section begins with a description of the historical and contemporary roles of neuropsychology in psychiatric settings. The remainder of this chapter discusses common complicating factors in assessment and interpretation (e.g., motivation, emotion) and the importance of using interpretation to develop relevant recommendations for remediation. The next chapter discusses methods of the psychological assessment. The final chapter reviews neuropsychological and neuroanatomical outcomes of psychotherapy. The discussion focuses on cognitive behavioral therapies, but also briefly describes the status of the literatures for other psychotherapeutic modalities, from psychodynamic to Gestalt therapies.
The breadth of coverage in The Neuropsychology of Psychopathology makes it a handy desk reference for general practitioners who frequently work with psychiatric populations and have interest in the neurobiological causes and neuropsychological implications of psychopathology. Many chapters from this book might also serve as a useful complementary reading for graduate courses in psychopathology wherein a particular focus on neuroscience and neuropsychology is desired. An unfortunate consequence of this text's breadth is the forfeit of more in-depth analysis of the neuropsychological features of some disorders for which a rich neuropsychological literature exists. Another potential consequence of the book's breadth is the relatively diffused sense of the intended audience. Thus, while some chapters appear best suited for graduate students, others appear best suited for general practitioners of clinical psychology, and others yet for clinical neuropsychologists. On the whole, however, scientists and practitioners within the field of clinical neuropsychology are somewhat less likely to find this book useful.