The Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes and the Civilized Mind (Book Review)

David V. Forrest, American Journal of Psychiatry, 2002, 159, 1615-1616.

Excerpt: The frontal lobes, once a terra incognita, began to seem a promised land for me when I attended a landmark symposium about them at Brown University in 1992 chaired by Salloway, Malloy, and Duffy, who edited an authoritative multiauthor text based on that symposium (1). Not the least of the frontal contributions to behavior I gleaned from that symposium was everything related to compliance with treatments. Frontal lobe buffs will now welcome Elkhonen Goldberg’s new book, which continues and advances frontal exploration in the science of mind.

Goldberg is a natural storyteller, so it is fitting that this readable monograph on the frontal lobe has a preface by Oliver Sacks, who places the book with works by Edelman and Damasio in addressing how nature and culture interact, and how brain and mind produce each other (p. xiv). Sacks points out that

the inertia of parkinsonism, the impulsiveness of Tourette’s syndrome, the distractibility of ADHD, the perseveration of OCD, the lack of empathy – or theory of mind – in autism or chronic schizophrenia, can all be understood, in large part, Goldberg feels, as due to the resonances, the secondary disturbances, in the function of the frontal lobes. (p. x)