Broad-minded young contender

Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society
May 21, 1999

This journal has a broad scope. Articles address all areas of neuropsychology (including child neuropsychology, developmental neuropsychology, adult neuropsychology, disorders of speech and language, behavioural neurology, neuropsychiatry and neuro-imaging) from a range of perspectives (experimental, clinical and applied). The emphasis of the majority of papers is on group studies, but some case studies are also published, and a comprehensive book review section is included.

The clinical perspective is illustrated by a recent article on neuropsychological functioning in cocaine abusers with and without alcohol dependence.

The paper reports the results of a battery of neuropsychological tests administered to three groups of participants: combined cocaine/alcohol abusers, cocaine abusers, and controls. All groups were matched for age, gender, education, IQ and socio-economic status.

The findings suggest mild impairment in psycho-motor and simple motor functioning in the cocaine abusers as compared with the controls. Surprisingly, the impairment was observed to be less in the alcohol-dependent cocaine abusers than in the non-alcohol-dependent abusers. No clear theoretical explanation is offered for the differences.

A second recent article illustrates the applied perspective, evaluating a computerised cueing system for the rehabilitation of patients with executive impairments of action: the system effectively provides patients with timed reminders, so that they may carry out essential tasks at appropriate times. The cueing system has previously been shown to be effective in the rehabilitation of memory-impaired patients. In the case study in this article, the system is shown to increase the patient's independence substantially. The authors suggest that the cueing system may serve not only as a reminding device, but also as a mechanism for the initiation and maintenance of attention.

Other case studies from recent issues have a more empirical slant. Thus, one presents a longitudinal study spanning six years of a patient with a progressive semantic aphasia (ie, an inability to name pictures and objects). The patient shows the classic pattern of a loss of semantic memory in conjunction with the relative preservation of memory for personal events. Another describes what appears to be reorganisation of verbal memory and language in a patient with severe childhood epilepsy. Findings from neurological testing and brain imaging of the patient suggest that language and verbal memory are not necessarily co-lateralised after functional reorganisation; an assumption, the authors argue, that is often taken for granted. A third case study reports two stroke patients with left spatial neglect (ie, a tendency to ignore stimuli on their right) whose awareness of objects on their right is best when their eyes are directed toward their left. This finding is taken to support what is becoming a well-established view: that task demands influence the spatial coordinates over which spatial neglect operates.

The examples here give a taste of the content of the journal. In general, its articles are descriptive rather than theoretical, but they are also generally of high quality. The journal itself is still young, and as such is not yet as well established as many of its rivals. It also has very broad scope, and so should not be compared to the many, more specialised journals that focus on specific areas of neuropsychology (eg, on language, memory, or rehabilitation). However, the breadth of this journal will make it of interest to many clinicians and researchers working in neuropsychology and related areas.

Richard Cooper is lecturer in psychology, Birkbeck College, London.

Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society: four times a year

Editor - Igor Grant
ISBN - ISSN 1355 6177
Publisher - Cambridge University Press
Price - £73.00 (individuals) £138.00 (institutions)
Pages - -

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