Précis of From neuropsychology to mental structure

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14 (3):429-438 (1991)
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Neuropsychological results are increasingly cited in cognitive theories although their methodology has been severely criticised. The book argues for an eclectic approach but particularly stresses the use of single-case studies. A range of potential artifacts exists when inferences are made from such studies to the organisation of normal function – for example, resource differences among tasks, premorbid individual differences, and reorganisation of function. The use of “strong” and “classical” dissociations minimises potential artifacts. The theoretical convergence between findings from fields where cognitive neuropsychology is well developed and those from the normal literature strongly suggests that the potential artifacts are not critical. The fields examined in detail in this respect are short-term memory, reading, writing, the organisation of input and output speech systems, and visual perception. Functional dissociation data suggest that not only are input systems organised modularly, but so are central systems. This conclusion is supported by findings on impairment of knowledge, visual attention, supervisory functions, memory, and consciousness.



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