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Memory in Neurodegenerative Disease

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    Memory in Neurodegenerative Disease. Edited by alexander i troster. (Pp 413, £60.00 (US $95.00). Published by Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1998. ISBN 0-521-57192-8.

    No one can doubt the increasing importance, to affected families and the healthcare system, of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and the other degenerative conditions of the nervous system. Furthermore, study of the degenerating brain can provide fundamental insights into brain function. Although there are authoritative books on memory, on disorders of memory, and on the neurological diseases covered in this book, the strength of the book is in the accounts of different views of memory in neurodegenerative disease. These differing perspectives mean that this book will be of interest to neurologists, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, and researchers in the neurosciences.

    The book is divided into three broad sections with summary chapters at the end of each. The first section deals with the biological aspects of neurodegenerative disease, with reviews on neuropathology, animal models, neurochemistry, and neuroimaging.

    The two chapters on neuroimaging are particularly valuable, being clear and well referenced. Although the genetic advances in this area are mentioned in several chapters, it is not a major topic in this work.

    The second section reviews the different cognitive aspects and explores the role of neurodegenerative conditions in the understanding of organisation of memory. Executive functions in both subcortical and cortical dementia syndromes, episodic and semantic memory, and non-declarative memory are systematically covered. The discussion of disintegration of distinct memory systems in different degenerative conditions will be of interest to psychologists and doctors alike, although this section will be of special interest to neuropsychologists.

    The last section of this book will be particularly useful for clinicians, as there are admirable summaries of the assessment of memory, including very interesting accounts of cross cultural issues in neuropsychological assessment and the reliability of psychometric instruments. The important clinical issues of early detection and of differentiating dementias and memory disorders are well presented. This section ends with an exploration of drug and surgical treatments for neurodegenerative disease.

    There is particular consideration of the possible cognitive sequelae of neurosurgery for akinetic-rigid syndromes and tremor. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a clear and authoritative account of the role of neuropsychology, experimental psychology, and theories of memory structure and organisation in relation to the neurobiology of the dementias and other neurodegenerative conditions.