The Executive Brain, by Elkhonon Goldberg
Train your “cerebral muscles” (Goldberg 2001, 255).
As highlighted by the very ideas of “brain fitness” or “neurobics” present in so many titles since the 1990s, the muscular-fitness model offers another element of continuity between the nineteenth century and recent decades (Cohen and Goldsmith 2002; Dennison, Dennison, and Teplitz 1994; Mark and Mark 1991; Winter and Winter 1987). The brain is a muscle: “Just as weight lifting repetitions in the gym or jogging strengthen certain muscle groups, mental exercises appear to strengthen and enhance cognitive functions over time” (Tannen n.d.). It is common to praise the “mental weight lifting” one can do in the “Brain Gym” (CBS 2006).
The Executive Brain is the first book to explore in popular scientific terms one of the most important and rapidly evolving topics in contemporary neuropsychology, the most "human" and recently evolved region of the brain--the frontal lobes. Crucial for all high-order functioning, it is only in humans that the frontal lobes are so highly developed. They hold the key to our judgment, our social and ethical behavior, our imagination, indeed, to our "soul." The author shows how the frontal lobes enable us to engage in complex mental processes, how vulnerable they are to injury, and how devastating the effects of damage often are, leading to chaotic, disorganized, asocial, and even criminal behavior.
Made up of fascinating case histories and anecdotes, Goldberg's book offers a panorama of state-of-the-art ideas and advances in cognitive neuroscience. It is also an intellectual memoir, filled with vignettes about the author's early training with the great Russian neuropsychologist A.R. Luria, Goldberg's escape from the Soviet Union, and his later interactions with patients and professionals around the world.To read excerpts or find out more about the book, click on the links below: