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Book Forum: Mapping the Brain   |    
Fundamentals of Functional Brain Imaging: A Guide to the Methods and Their Applications to Psychology and Behavioural Neuroscience
Am J Psychiatry 2001;158:337-337. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.158.2.337
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London, U.K.

By Andrew C. Papanicolaou. Lisse, Netherlands, Swets & Zeitlinger, 1998, 143 pp., $72.00.

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Published as a volume in the Studies on Neuropsychology, Development and Cognition series, this beautiful little book evolved from a didactic lecture course given by the author to graduate neuropsychology students. These were lucky students. Papanicolaou manages to be infectiously and rather touchingly awestruck by recent advances in functional imaging while remaining very much the master in terms of his clear and critical understanding of the field. The book is in three parts. Beginning with a section on Basic Concepts, Papanicolaou examines the important questions of the fidelity of functional images and the relation of activation patterns to brain functions. In section 2, the methodologies of magnetoencephalography, functional magnetic resonance imaging, and positron emission tomography are lucidly described, and in section 3 he explains the principles underlying correspondence between activation patterns and brain function involved in behavior.

Brain imaging research currently is a victim of its own success in that the acquisition and analysis of data have become so accessible that investigators can carry out activation studies involving complex neuropsychological paradigms without a personal understanding of the underlying limitations or strengths of the techniques. This can lead to some highly dubious data interpretation and weakens the field. Fundamentals of Functional Brain Imaging is precisely what is needed to correct this deficit. Highly readable, comprehensive, and thoughtful, the book will be equally at home on the desk of a newcomer to imaging and on the shelves of an experienced authority who from time to time feels the need to refresh himself or herself on the clearest way to visualize the processes that underlie experimental work. I do not know of any other book or series of articles that I could say this about, and I heartily recommend the book to anyone who is interested in functional imaging at any level. It should be compulsory reading for anyone who is awarded a research grant or takes on a research post in the field.

Brain imaging is, of course, a very visual science, and the 81 color figures that pepper the text are highly informative and appealing. Many of them will unofficially find their way into the slide collections of those of us whose teaching or research covers the area. I predict that the delightful drawings by Dr. George Zouridakis will be seen in lecture halls across the globe.




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