Book review – general perspectives on executive functions

Subtitled “Frontal Lobes in a complex world”, this is an much improved update to the earlier “Frontal Lobes and the Civilised Mind”, to include neuro-diverse minds and ADHD. This is a very helpful reference book that explores the functions of the human brain. Goldberg’s theories of cortical organisation, frontal lobe function, and hemisphere differences are original and fascinating. Goldberg’s theories align but are not all yet proven by clinical neuroscience.

From an ADHD perspective there are deeper answers than psychiatry completely fails to provide. Goldberg explains that the frontal lobes play a role in complex and higher-aspects of personality and behaviour, as opposed to language, spatial and mathematical analysis, and abstract thought. Using neurological case studies, Goldberg shows how the frontal lobes are involved in every aspect of our lives, from normal social interaction to specific behaviours like long-term achievement motivation, prioritizing of tasks, and even anti-social and criminal behaviour.

In the last chapters he concentrates on brain health and recommends keeping your body healthy, as despite the blood-brain barrier, the brain is nourished by the body, so reduce body fat with daily exercise daily, avoid of fried foods and junk food. Take up meditation so that your brain can reprogram itself to a ‘kinder, gentler’ interior dialogue.

The personal history sections are long and distract from the science but there are fascinating insights throughout the book, a quite technical but rewarding read.