Stirling stuff, if a bit simple

Introducing Neuropsychology. First edition
November 29, 2002

Introducing Neuropsychology is precisely what it claims to be: an introductory text aimed at undergraduates from psychology, neuroscience and medicine studying neuropsychology.

The introductory nature of the text places it firmly on the bottom rung of the academic ladder. Stirling makes few presuppositions about his audience, and adopts a conversational style that is appropriate for students entering with a wide variety of learning intentions.

Highlights of the text include its organisation, boxed summaries and comments throughout to emphasise specific points, end-of-chapter summaries and further reading lists, a reflective chapter at the end of the book, a glossary, a brief annotated list of relevant websites, and an appendix on basic neurophysiology.

Early chapters cover general issues (history, methods and laterality), while later chapters focus on specific psychological domains such as motor control, language, memory, attention and executive processes. All of the usual candidates are present, while the murky topics of emotion and consciousness are addressed only in passing.

The conversational style ensures that the text is highly readable, which will appeal to much of Stirling's target audience. But the readability comes at a price: in places the book presents oversimplified accounts of phenomena, ignores swaths of relevant material and lapses into careless prose (for example, in suggesting that experiments have "proven" theories or hypotheses, when they have provided only supporting evidence).

The first two of these compromises are excusable in an introductory text, but the third is worrying. This criticism is compounded by the existence of other excellent texts in this area. Indeed, the book makes extensive reference to several of these (particularly Cognitive Neuroscience : Th e Biology of the Mind by Michael Gazzaniga et al ). It is unclear what this book adds to that body of work.

Richard Cooper is reader in cognitive science, Birkbeck College, University of London.

Introducing Neuropsychology. First edition

Author - John Stirling
ISBN - 0 415 258 5 and 259 3
Publisher - Psychology Press
Price - £55.00 and £16.95
Pages - 291

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