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Edited by Hans-Otto Karnath, David Milner, and Giuseppe Vallar. Published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2002, pp 401, £65.00. ISBN 0-19-850833-6
This edited book represents the state of the art in research on spatial neglect and related disorders. Since the pioneering work of Edoardo Bisiach (Italy) and Kenneth Heilman (USA) in the 1970s, there has been an explosion of interest in this intriguing neurological disorder. Spatial neglect arises after unilateral hemispheric damage, typically of the right temporoparietal region. It manifests as a profound loss of conscious perception for events arising on the contralesional side of space despite, in many cases, adequate sensory transmission (and unconscious processing) of the neglected information. The contributors to this book, all leading clinicians and researchers in the field, provide illuminating and scholarly accounts of recent research on the cognitive and neural bases for spatial neglect. The 27 chapters cover a range of topics, from neuropsychological studies of perception, attention, and action in neglect patients through to animal models of space representation based on surgical ablation and single cell electrophysiology. An impressive feature of many chapters is the emphasis on relating impairments in clinical neglect with recent work on normal mechanisms of spatial cognition derived from cognitive psychology and functional brain imaging. The key message to emerge from the book is that, contrary to accounts in many texts of neurology, spatial neglect is a heterogeneous syndrome characterised by several dissociable deficits. Its manifestations in any particular patient are determined by the extent to which neural circuits involved in establishing and updating spatial representations are compromised. This message is clearly articulated in the chapters on rehabilitation, which emphasise that the most successful interventions are those that recruit appropriate intact circuits. The book will be a valuable reference source for clinicians, particularly those working with stroke patients in rehabilitation settings where neglect can be a formidable barrier to effective therapy. It will also prove indispensable for students and researchers who are seeking an up to date account of experimental and theoretical advances in spatial neglect.