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Book Forum: Neuropsychology, Neuroscience, and Psychiatry   |    
Neuroscience for the Mental Health Clinician
NIKHIL NIHALANI, M.D.; SANJAY GUPTA, M.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2005;162:1237-a-1238. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.162.6.1237-a
View Author and Article Information
Rochester, N.Y.
Olean, N.Y.

By Steven R. Pliszka, M.D. New York, Guilford Publications, 2002, 280 pp., $37.00; $25.00 (paper published 2004).

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Many books have been written on the neuroscience aspects of psychiatry. Neuroscience encompasses a broad range of questions about how nervous systems are organized and how they function to generate behavior. Neuroscience has grown substantially as a field with the new knowledge gained from neuroimaging and genetic studies. This book is a partly successful attempt to merge the ongoing research with the emerging concepts in neuroscience and the daily clinical scenarios that face the mental health clinician. This attempt has been restricted by the dearth of data available in the research field.

This book is divided into two parts. Part 1 deals with the basic principles of neuroscience with a lucid explanation of the different systems in the brain, focusing on neuroanatomy and neurophysiology. This part consists of six chapters providing an easy-to-understand and in-depth description of how the different structures in the brain function and interact with each other as if in a symphony. Although the language is simple, it does not neglect the in-depth analysis of this complex subject. The sketches used are simple and self-explanatory. The first part is written with a lot of lucidity and easy reading power, living up to the name of the book. An attempt is made to simplify the concepts not only for people who share a background in neuroanatomy and neurophysiology but also for those who are more clinically oriented.

Part 2 focuses on the application of this knowledge to the clinical disorders described in DSM-IV. This part consists of seven chapters. To maintain the simplicity of this book the author makes efforts to break away from the conventional organization of mental illnesses. He concentrates on introducing new concepts of regrouping the illnesses based on neurobiological aspects of the illness, such as aggression, antisocial behavior, and substance abuse. He also helps integrate this with the conventional grouping of disorders of the mentally ill as much as possible. The author proceeds to describe the different etiological theories regarding the groups of illnesses with as much accuracy as possible. He performs the delicate task of putting forth current knowledge available on the etiology of neurobiological illnesses such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder without compromising the language and thus keeping it accessible to nonphysician clinicians. The sketches and diagrams no doubt play an important role in facilitating this process.

The strengths of the book include its clarity and the fact that it is easy to understand and is written in simple language with an addictive type of quality that may be found in a book of fiction. The author has taken pains to include historical detail on the different aspects of etiology and treatment for the chapters. The book is lacking in detail and may not be sufficient for the reader to understand the undoubtedly complex road map the brain uses. Nevertheless, it is a successful attempt to provide the reader with the "nuts and bolts" of normal and pathological human behavior.

Typographical errors and misspellings are rare, and the editing is of high quality. Overall the information in this book is well organized, covering the multiple aspects of neuroscience in psychiatry. It is suggested reading for trainees, psychiatrists, and clinicians working in behavioral health.

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