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Book Forum: Textbooks   |    
Handbook of Psychophysiology, 2nd ed.
DAVID L. BRAFF, M.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2001;158:1344-a-1345. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.158.8.1344-a
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Edited by John T. Cacioppo, Louis G. Tassinary, and Gary G. Berntson. New York, Cambridge University Press, 2000, 1,054 pp., $125.00.

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The book is an extensively revised second edition of Principles of Psychophysiology. The current book is an extremely detailed and useful reference for scholars interested in the principles and practice of psychophysiology. Extremely well-qualified and distinguished authors have contributed to the book, which is divided into six sections that cover the history and future of psychophysiology.

The introduction stresses conceptual issues about the importance of psychophysiology as a window onto the function of the brain. The editors have organized the sections according to a historical context that includes extensive references to Galen, Descartes, and many others who have examined brain/behavior interfaces over the past 500 years. One certainly cannot accuse the editors of being short-sighted!

Part 2 is logically positioned in that it discusses the foundations of topics such as human electrophysiology, cerebral event-related potentials, and other traditional methods examined by such scholars as Davidson, Jackson, and Larson. The editors include more recent advances in such fields as positron emission tomography as well as functional magnetic resonance imaging, which places psychophysiology in its new, emerging context.

In part 3, the book is more focused on function, with invited chapters by scholars such as Pivik (sleep and dreaming) and Dworkin (interoception). The section then segues into practical applications where the importance of psychophysiology in the study of psychopathology, detection of deception, and environmental psychophysiology, among other topics, are covered.

This volume is heavily focused on academic psychology and does an excellent job of discussing paradigms, conceptualizations, and applications of psychophysiology to a wide array of problems. Methodology is discussed in part 5 with an emphasis on such issues as psychometrics, methods, design, biosignal processing, and dynamic modeling.

For clinicians in practice or those conducting clinical trials or similar work who want to find a simple solution to some of their design problems, this volume would not necessarily be of interest. For scholars interested in advancing the field and applying modern parametric modeling techniques and in producing innovative research, this is a particularly interesting volume. This book is not for beginners because of the seriousness and complexity of the material and its highly specialized focus. This handbook is an impressive edition of serious scholarship and is an excellent resource and reference for individuals involved with psychophysiological studies or the application of psychophysiological methods to treatment outcome, complex genetic psychiatric disorders, and other such advanced issues.

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