email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
12 and HoldingA Guide to Asperger SyndromeA Lethal InheritanceA Mother's Courage: Talking Back to AutismA Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning AutismA Special EducationA Toss Of The DiceA Tribe ApartA User Guide to the GF/CF Diet for Autism, Asperger Syndrome and AD/HDA Walk in the Rain With a BrainABC of Eating DisordersADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your LifeADHD Grown UpADHD in the Schools: Assessment and Intervention StrategiesAdolescence and Body ImageAdolescent DepressionAggression and Antisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAll Alone in the UniverseAlpha GirlsAmericaAnother PlanetAntisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAsperger Syndrome and Your ChildAsperger Syndrome, Adolescence, and IdentityAsperger's and GirlsAssessment of Childhood DisordersAttention Deficit DisorderAttention-Deficit Hyperactivity DisorderAttention-Deficit/Hyperactivity DisorderAutism - The Eighth Colour of the RainbowAutism and MeAutism's False ProphetsAutistic Spectrum DisordersBad GirlBeen There, Done That? DO THIS!Before I DieBetween Two WorldsBeyond AppearanceBig Mouth & Ugly GirlBipolar ChildrenBipolar Disorder in Childhood and Early AdolescenceBipolar DisordersBipolar KidsBlackwell Handbook of Childhood Cognitive DevelopmentBody Image, Eating Disorders, and ObesityBody Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity in YouthBoy AloneBrain-Based Therapy with Children and AdolescentsBreaking PointBreathing UnderwaterBringing Up ParentsBullying and TeasingBullying PreventionBut I Love HimCan't Eat, Won't EatCaring for a Child with AutismCatalystChild and Adolescent PsychiatryChild and Adolescent Psychological DisordersChild and Adolescent PsychopathologyChild NeuropsychologyChild Well-BeingChildren and SexualityChildren Changed by TraumaChildren with Emerald EyesChildren with Sexual Behavior ProblemsChildren, Sexuality and SexualizationChildren’s Dreaming and the Development of Consciousness City of OneCommunication Issues In Autism And Asperger SyndromeConcepts of NormalityConcise Guide to Child and Adolescent PsychiatryConquering the Beast WithinConsuming KidsContesting ChildhoodCount Us InCrackedCrossesCutCyber-Safe Kids, Cyber-Savvy TeensDamageDemystifying the Autistic ExperienceDescartes' BabyDilemmas of DesireDirtyDisconnected KidsDoing SchoolDon't Bother Me Mom--I'm Learning!Don't Pick On MeDying to Be ThinEarly Intervention Programs and PoliciesEating an ArtichokeEducating Children With AutismEight Stories UpElijah's CupEmerald City BluesEmotional and Behavioral Problems of Young ChildrenEpilepticEthical Dilemmas in PediatricsEvery Girl Tells a StoryExiting NirvanaExploiting ChildhoodEye ContactFacing BipolarFamily HistoryFast GirlsForever YoungFreaks, Geeks and Asperger SyndromeFreewillFrictionGirl CultureGirl in the MirrorGirlfightingGirlhoodGirlWiseHandbook of Evidence-Based Therapies for Children and AdolescentsHandbook of Preschool Mental HealthHealing ADDHelping Children Cope With Disasters and TerrorismHelping Hyperactive KidsHelping Parents, Youth, and Teachers Understand Medications for Behavioral and Emotional ProblemsHelping Students Overcome Depression and AnxietyHelping Teens Who CutHollow KidsHope's BoyHow Infants Know MindsHow to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can'tHurry Down SunshineI Am Not Joey PigzaIdentifying Hyperactive ChildrenIf Your Adolescent Has an Eating DisorderIn the Company of CraziesIncorporating Social Goals in the ClassroomIntegrated YogaIntrusive ParentingIssues for Families, Schools and CommunitiesJake RileyJoey Pigza Loses ControlJoey Pigza Swallowed the KeyJuvenile-Onset SchizophreniaKim: Empty InsideLearning and Behavior Problems in Asperger SyndromeLearning Disorders and Disorders of the Self in Children and AdolescentsLearning Outside the Lines Let Kids Be KidsLiberation's ChildrenLife As We Know ItLisa, Bright and DarkLook Me in the EyeLoserLove and SexLove That DogMad at SchoolMaking ADD WorkMaking American BoysManicMastering Anger and AggressionMaverick MindMedicating ChildrenMind FieldsMind to MindMommy I'm Still in HereMore Than a LabelMy Flesh and BloodMyths of ChildhoodNew Hope for Children and Teens with Bipolar DisorderNew Look at ADHD: Inhibition, Time, and Self-ControlNo Child Left DifferentNo Two AlikeNon-Drug Treatments for ADHDNot Much Just Chillin'NurtureShockOdd Girl OutOdd Girl Speaks OutOne Hot SecondOne in ThirteenOphelia SpeaksOphelia's MomOur Journey Through High Functioning Autism and Asperger SyndromeOut of the WoodsOvercoming ADHDOvercoming School AnxietyParenting a Child Who Has Intense EmotionsParenting Children With ADHDParenting Your Out-Of-Control TeenagerPediatric PsychopharmacologyPediatric PsychopharmacologyPediatric PsychopharmacologyPeople with HyperactivityPhobic and Anxiety Disorders in Children and AdolescentsPINSPlease Don't Label My ChildPraising Boys WellPraising Girls WellProblem Child or Quirky Kid?Problem GirlsPsychotherapy for Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy with Children and AdolescentsPurgeRaising a Moody ChildRaising BlazeRaising Generation RxRaising Resilient ChildrenReady or Not, Here Life ComesReclaiming Our ChildrenRedressing the EmperorReducing Adolescent RiskRemembering Our ChildhoodResilience in ChildrenRethinking ADHDReweaving the Autistic TapestryRitalin is Not the Answer Action GuideRitalin NationRunning on RitalinRunning with ScissorsRutter's Child and Adolescent PsychiatrySeeing EzraSex and the American TeenagerSex, Therapy, and KidsSexting and Young PeopleSexual Teens, Sexual MediaShort Term 12Should I Medicate My Child?SmashedSnapshots of AutismSongs Without WordsSophie Spikey Has a Very Big ProblemSpeakStaying Connected to Your TeenagerStick FigureStraight Talk about Psychiatric Medications for KidsStraight Talk about Psychological Testing for KidsStraight Talk about Your Child's Mental HealthStrange SonStudent DepressionSuicidal Behavior in Children and AdolescentsSurvival Strategies for Parenting Children with Bipolar DisorderSurviving OpheliaTaking Charge of ADHD, Revised EditionTaming the Troublesome ChildTemple GrandinThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook Of Child And Adolescent PsychiatryThe Anti-Romantic ChildThe Bipolar ChildThe Boy Who Loved WindowsThe Boy Who Was Raised as a DogThe Buffalo TreeThe Bully Action GuideThe Bully, the Bullied, and the BystanderThe Burn JournalsThe Color of AbsenceThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeThe Depressed ChildThe Developing MindThe Dragons of AutismThe Einstein SyndromeThe EpidemicThe Evolution of ChildhoodThe Explosive ChildThe Eyes of van GoghThe Fasting GirlThe Field of the DogsThe Flight of a DoveThe Hidden Gifts of the Introverted ChildThe Horse BoyThe Identity TrapThe Inner World of a Suicidal YouthThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Kindness of StrangersThe Last Normal ChildThe Little MonsterThe Medicated ChildThe Myth of LazinessThe New Gay TeenagerThe Nurture AssumptionThe OASIS Guide to Asperger SyndromeThe Other ParentThe Perversion of YouthThe Philosophy of AutismThe Psychoanalytic Study of the ChildThe Real Truth About Teens and SexThe Ride TogetherThe Rise and Fall of the American TeenagerThe Science of ADHDThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Survival Guide for Kids With LD*The Unhappy ChildThen Again, Maybe I Won'tTherapy with ChildrenThings I Have to Tell YouThings Tom LikesThrough the Glass WallThumbsuckerTotally WiredTouching Spirit BearTrauma in the Lives of ChildrenTreating ADHD and Comorbid DisordersTreatment of Childhood DisordersTwistedUnder the Wolf, Under the DogUnhappy TeenagersUnstrange MindsWastedWe've Got IssuesWeather Reports from the Autism FrontWhat about the KidsWhat in the World Are Your Kids Doing Online?What Works for Whom?What Would Joey Do?What's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhat's Happening to Tom?When Nothing Matters AnymoreWhen Your Child Has an Eating DisorderWhose America?Why Don't Students Like SchoolWill's ChoiceWinnicott On the ChildWorried All the TimeYou Hear MeYoung Minds in Social WorldsYoung People and Mental HealthYour Child, Bully or Victim?
To consult a textbook as a practitioner or a student can be radically different from the task of critiquing it. The student or practitioner seeks answers; the reviewer, questions. The first kind of reader often focuses upon his or her lack of knowledge; the second kind, upon the text's apparent lack. In what follows, we shall adopt both roles when critically assessing the main goal outlined by the editors of Child Neuropsychology, Jonathan Reed and Jody Warner-Rogers, two clinical psychologists who were jointly in charge of the at Guy's Hospital in London for several years.
The principal goal defining paediatric neuropsychology is generally taken to be an analysis of the developmental relationships between the brain and the behaviour of children where the "process of change is key" (1). The more specific aim of this volume is to gain "a thorough understanding," "to define what a comprehensive theory...should encompass" (1). And that aim seems realisable because, as its editors claim, "textbooks can provide the conceptual framework within which newly acquired knowledge can be organized, understood, and integrated" (1)--though whether readers' or researchers' knowledge remains unsaid. Or, as Ian Frampton writing from the perspective of mental health contexts expresses it, "there is nothing as practical as a good theory" (393). Whether this anthology realises its aim of imparting an appropriate conceptual framework by which its readers can fulfil their practical concerns is the focus of what follows.
The distinctive scope and purpose of Child Neuropsychology shows itself in the wider context of recent publications. The anthology follows fast upon the third edition of the 2008 The Neuropsychology Handbook (co-edited by Arthur Horton, a contributor to whom we shall return) and within a few years of the 2002 Blackwell Handbook of Childhood Cognitive Development (edited by Usha Goswami, another contributor). The first-mentioned handbook is overtly pitched at clinical practitioners and other professionals relying upon neuropsychological data and opinions whereas the second handbook more implicitly targets postgraduates and researchers seeking surveys of classic, current, and anticipated research in developmental psychology. The contrast with these recent anthologies and the explicit rationale of the shorter Child Neuropsychology is clear. Its twenty predominantly Anglo-American contributions--each aiming to maintain a balance between compression of information and clarity of exposition--are distributed into three parts, "Key Concepts" (comprising six chapters, 7-135), "Theory of Neuropsychological Development" (nine chapters, 139-374), and "Practice" (five chapters, 377-449) respectively. The twenty chapters collectively manifest its editors' attempt both to bridge recent scientific research and clinical practice and to reflect a developmental focus rather than one based solely upon disorders.
Having sketched the context, let us begin a closer analysis with the seventh chapter. Its author, Michael Anderson, immediately confronts readers with the need to reckon with the often disregarded concept of general intellectual ability in the context of the co-occurrence or "comorbidity of developmental disorders" (112). More crucially, argues Anderson, it is manifested in a dual manner, "one related to individual differences and the other to developmental change" (112). The need to account for general intelligence is not merely an empirical or statistical issue, one tied to the fact that "[m]ost developmental disorders are diagnosed with reference to a discrepancy in levels of performance from that predicted by the general intellectual functioning of the child" (112). It is also "theoretically necessary," Anderson contends, because general intelligence and developmental disorders are "functionally...linked" (113) in so far as tests and criteria for the former are "developmentally normed" (131). After countering typical objections to general intelligence--that it is little more than an artefact constructed by its tests or that it is an artefact reflecting socio-cultural bias (114-115)--Anderson next synthesizes two hypotheses separately formulated in the 'seventies and the 'nineties respectively. In short, he construes general intelligence as fundamentally based upon both the speed of processing perceptual "information" and the capacity for solving problematic tasks. Behavioural self-regulation or inhibition as much as cognitive attention and monitoring of the goals hierarchically sorted during such tasks is, as Anderson reminds us, typically termed "executive functioning." In turn, both individual variation and cognitive development--the two dimensions of intelligence mentioned at the outset--are hypothesized as corresponding to two cortical "processing routes" in acquiring knowledge (120ff.). For readers familiar with his work since the early 'nineties, these are the two avenues by which Anderson aims to explicate the complex matrix characterising developmental disorders. His chapter ends with at least two possibilities framing future directions readers may be driven to pursue. Firstly, whilst contrasting those with dyslexia and those with autism, Anderson entertains that the latter's "specific deficit in theory of mind" may not just be concomitant with impaired general intelligence, but may actually be its cause (126). Secondly, agreeing with Dorothy Bishop, he, too, proposes that research not only needs to disclose "crucial instances of dissociation" marking developmental disorders, but also the presence of "associations between different types of impairments" where time and again comorbidity prevails (130).
Now, consider the case of a reader wishing to pursue concepts raised by Anderson such as executive functioning or theory-of-mind within this anthology. When Claire Hughes and Andrew Graham deal with executive functions and development in the twelfth chapter of the same name, they expand upon problematic tasks in terms of "a complex cognitive construct" which underpin "goal-directed responses to novel or difficult situations" and which correlates with the prefrontal cortex (264). However, Hughes and Graham make no reference to the concept of intelligence. Instead, they pursue the loss or absence of executive function in those with prefrontal lesions which result in "impairments in...abstract thinking," a contention influentially associated with the far earlier work of Adhémar Gelb and Kurt Goldstein (neither of whom figure in the index). Nor are the difficulties perceived by Hughes and Graham in pinpointing an operational definition of executive function (266ff.) ever re-conceptualised by questioning what Goldstein and Gelb actually understood, let alone assumed, by "abstract" or so-called "categorial" thinking. To that extent, it seems, our hypothetical reader is left stranded.
If, to take another example, a reader intrigued by Anderson's claim about the causal connections with theory-of-mind mentioned above, he or she will ultimately find the problem of other minds appearing in two otherwise unrelated passages. Here, the extensive index of this anthology (450-472) is not simply the last resort, it is the only resort if chapter titles prove unhelpful since neither a glossary nor an annotated bibliography is provided. The first occurs in Hughes and Graham, who define "theory of mind...as the ability to attribute mental states to oneself and others" (278), where they contend that there is "converging evidence for a functional link" between executive functioning and theory-of-mind both of which betray "pronounced impairments...among children with autism" (278-279). However, in the end, Hughes and Graham look to improving "our conceptual understanding" here by our capacity to handle the "methodological challenges" besetting researchers to date (279). And, to note in passing, were our hypothetical reader tempted to explore executive functions in light of possible preconditions such as attention and self-regulation, the respective contributions by Maxine Sinclair and Eric Taylor (235ff.) and by Rebecca Todd and Marc Lewis (285ff.) provide little illumination.
So, the next occurrence of theory-of-mind for our reader figures in the fourteenth chapter by Simon Baron-Cohen and Bhismadev Chakrabarti under the heading of the development of empathy, a precondition of which is "shared attention" (318ff.). The authors take an act of empathy not only "to identify another person's emotions and thoughts," a cognitive skill or set of skills, but also "to respond to these with an appropriate emotion" at an affective level (316). If states of mind or feeling are not "matched" but nonetheless "concern" for the other is present, then we purportedly have a "third component" of empathy "also termed 'sympathy'" (317). Once again, without entering the complexities of Baron-Cohen's second revised model of his 1994 mindreading system here, readers are not introduced to the contested conceptions of empathy in circulation. For instance, Lauren Wispé in her 1991 monograph, The Psychology of Sympathy, distinguishes empathy and sympathy quite sharply on the grounds that they operate in reverse: "In empathy one substitutes oneself for the other person; in sympathy one substitutes others for oneself" such that, ultimately, "empathy is a way of knowing; sympathy is a way of relating."
Baron-Cohen and Chakrabarti are not alone in stipulating how key concepts ought to be defined. Arthur Horton and Henry Soper on the neuropsychology of children's memory in the tenth chapter are another case in point. Given the multiplicity of forms of memory, Horton and Soper categorise these forms in terms of temporal duration and the extent to which they raise problems of encoding, storage, and retrieval (218-219). Nowhere is the reader made privy to the possibility that their underpinning metaphors of "encoding, storage, and retrieval" (230) have been seriously questioned by, for instance, the alternative neural Darwinist framework for construing memory and perception developed by Gerald Edelman, Israel Rosenfield, and William Clancey over the last two decades. Whereas Horton and Soper explicitly draw upon the "interactive" framework of Alexander Luria on higher cortical functions in an effort to sketch the neuropsychological organisation and development of memory and patterns of its impairment (221-225), no explanation is given for relying upon the first 1966 edition in preference to the richly expanded second 1980 edition. Luria is extolled by Horton and Soper for providing a "unique, elegant, and efficient method" for framing the development of "language, memory, and executive functioning" (224 & 223); indeed, he is also praised by Hughes and Graham for realising that the onset of executive functioning was far earlier than previously thought (271). Yet, the neurological debates and applications of his generation are largely neglected in this anthology. Indeed, passing references to Luria's dependence upon Lev Vygotsky (223 & 224), not unlike that of Frampton (393), give readers little detailed sense of why, let alone how, Luria and Vygotsky were driven to uphold one conceptual framework for comprehending the patterns of the hierarchical development of attention, memory, perception, volition, and cognition in preference to others nor the central role of speech both men discerned in such development.
We began by commenting upon different kinds of readers of textbooks. Let us conclude by briefly returning to that very issue and the demands they can make upon textbook anthologies. Readers of Child Neuropsychology will notice how different an approach Horton and Soper take by contrast with most of its contributors. For example, whereas the final chapter by the editors themselves adheres to a formal, impersonal address ("Of course, one would never expect..."; "How does one go about collecting and interpreting..."; and "This chapter aims to answer..." to cite its introduction (432)), Horton and Soper address readers directly in the second-person ("you"). More pointedly, they engage their readers colloquially. For instance, when elaborating upon relevance of recollected details tied to the infero-temporal areas of the "fully functioning...cortex," Horton and Soper write: "This goes with the trash heap, with the back of stop lights and everything else. All the stuff I do not need is thrown out because I can only pack so much into my memory" (228). Ironically, we almost immediately face the comment, "It might be mentioned that the research program of Roger Sperry was so successful and produced findings of such importance that he later received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his contributions" (229). The point here is not simply a stylistic issue. Rather, it lies in the ambitions of a textbook aiming "to stimulate" its readers--"our colleagues"--into "the next stage of research and practice" (3).
Basically, students and practitioners, seeking theoretical and practical knowledge, focus upon a set of concepts or topics and the key issues they raise. What should the entries or chapters they encounter minimally provide them? At least five features are required: the formal or working definition(s); the key issues, debates, or problems; the characteristic examples or evidence; the related entries, fields, or concepts ("keywords"); and the major writing(s) on the topic or concept. The strengths of the anthology under review are largely in the domain of neuropsychological assessment. Its aim to bridge "cutting-edge science and clinical practice" whilst conceding it "can never reflect the most contemporary research findings" (1) is arguably the bane of all textbooks with such goals. Perhaps that is a salutary reminder that the pursuit of current research needs to convey not only its conceptual frameworks but also the past debates out of which it emerged.
© 2009 R.A. Goodrich
R.A. Goodrich teaches in the School of Communication & Creative Arts, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia, co-edits the online refereed arts-practice journal, Double Dialogues, and currently co-ordinates with Maryrose Hall a pilot study of a number of children within the autistic spectrum of disorders.