Sunday, December 07, 2014

Best Psychology & Neuroscience Books of 2014 (according to me)

Here are some of the best books I have been exposed to this year. Obviously, I cannot read everything, so this is a partial list at best. They are listed in alphabetical order. Descriptive text is from the publisher's blurb on Amazon.

A few of these books warrant the RECOMMENDED READ classification.

Adult Attachment Patterns in a Treatment Context: Relationship and Narrative
Sarah Daniel
Attachment theory posits that the need for attachment is a life-long phenomenon that becomes especially relevant in times of crisis or trauma. When adults experience illness, accidents, assaults, psychological difficulties or losses, their attachment-behavioural systems are activated, motivating them to seek help and support from family and friends and/or from helping professionals. However, the resulting request for help is affected and shaped by earlier experiences regarding the support and trustworthiness of attachment figures. Can others be trusted? Is it safe to show vulnerability? How should one behave to increase the likelihood of receiving the help needed? 

Adult Attachment Patterns in a Treatment Context provides an integrated introduction to the subject of adult attachment. Research into adult attachment patterns offers professional helpers a theoretically sound insight into the dynamics underlying a range of client behaviours, including some of the more puzzling and frustrating behaviours such as denying obvious pain or continually pushing the professional for more personal involvement. Sarah Daniel shows how applying knowledge of attachment patterns to treatment settings will improve the way in which professionals engage with clients and the organization of treatments. This book will be relevant to a range of helping professionals such as psychotherapists, psychologists and social workers, both in practice and in training.

Affect Regulation Training: A Practitioners' Manual
Matthias Berking and Brian Whitley 
Emotion Regulation is currently one of the most popular topics in clinical psychology. Numerous studies demonstrate that deficits in emotion regulation skills are likely to help maintain various forms of psychological disorders. Thus, enhancing emotion regulation has become a major target in psychotherapeutic treatments. For this purpose, a number of therapeutic strategies have been developed and shown to be effective. However, for practitioners it is often difficult to decide which of these strategies they should use or how they can effectively combine empirically-validated strategies. Thus, the authors developed the Affect Regulation Training as a transdiagnostic intervention which systematically integrates strategies from cognitive behavior therapy, mindfulness-based interventions, emotion-focused therapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy. The effectiveness of ART has been demonstrated in several high-quality studies. 

Attachment and Interaction: From Bowlby to Current Clinical Theory and Practice
Mario Marrone
Attachment and Interaction is an accessible introduction to the history and evolution of attachment theory, which traces the early roots of attachment theory from the work of its creator John Bowlby through to the most recent theoretical developments and their clinical applications. Mario Marrone explores how attachment theory can inform how therapists work with their patients, and what the practical implications are of using such an approach. By mixing personal anecdotes from his own experiences as Bowlby's supervisee with clear explanations of Bowlby's ideas and how they have evolved, Marrone creates a memorable and engaging account of attachment theory. This new, updated edition includes new material on bereavement, sexuality and the application of attachment-based principles to individual, family and group psychotherapy. This clear exposition of attachment theory is relevant and valuable reading for trainee and practising individual and group psychotherapists, family therapists and mental health professionals - as well as anyone with an interest in John Bowlby and the evolution of psychotherapy.

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
Bessel A. van der Kolk 

A pioneering researcher and one of the world’s foremost experts on traumatic stress offers a bold new paradigm for healing

Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Such experiences inevitably leave traces on minds, emotions, and even on biology. Sadly, trauma sufferers frequently pass on their stress to their partners and children.

Renowned trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he transforms our understanding of traumatic stress, revealing how it literally rearranges the brain’s wiring—specifically areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control, and trust. He shows how these areas can be reactivated through innovative treatments including neurofeedback, mindfulness techniques, play, yoga, and other therapies. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score offers proven alternatives to drugs and talk therapy—and a way to reclaim lives.

Brain, Mind, and Consciousness in the History of Neuroscience
C.U.M. Smith and Harry Whitaker, Editors
This volume of essays examines the problem of mind, looking at how the problem has appeared to neuroscientists (in the widest sense) from classical antiquity through to contemporary times. Beginning with a look at ventricular neuropsychology in antiquity, this book goes on to look at Spinozan ideas on the links between mind and body, Thomas Willis and the foundation of Neurology, Hooke’s mechanical model of the mind and Joseph Priestley’s approach to the mind-body problem.

The volume offers a chapter on the 19th century Ottoman perspective on western thinking. Further chapters trace the work of nineteenth century scholars including George Henry Lewes, Herbert Spencer and Emil du Bois-Reymond. The book covers significant work from the twentieth century, including an examination of Alfred North Whitehead and the history of consciousness, and particular attention is given to the development of quantum consciousness. Chapters on slavery and the self and the development of an understanding of Dualism bring this examination up to date on the latest 21st century work in the field.

At the heart of this book is the matter of how we define the problem of consciousness itself: has there been any progress in our understanding of the working of mind and brain? This work at the interface between science and the humanities will appeal to experts from across many fields who wish to develop their understanding of the problem of consciousness, including scholars of Neuroscience, Behavioural Science and the History of Science.

Cyclical Psychodynamics and the Contextual Self: The Inner World, the Intimate World, and the World of Culture and Society
Paul L. Wachtel
Cyclical Psychodynamics and the Contextual Self articulates in new ways the essential features and most recent extensions of Paul Wachtel's powerfully integrative theory of cyclical psychodynamics. Wachtel is widely regarded as the leading advocate for integrative thinking in personality theory and the theory and practice of psychotherapy. He is a contributor to cutting edge thought in the realm of relational psychoanalysis and to highlighting the ways in which the relational point of view provides especially fertile ground for integrating psychoanalytic insights with the ideas and methods of other theoretical and therapeutic orientations. 

In this book, Wachtel extends his integration of psychoanalytic, cognitive-behavioral, systemic, and experiential viewpoints to examine closely the nature of the inner world of subjectivity, its relation to the transactional world of daily life experiences, and the impact on both the larger social and cultural forces that both shape and are shaped by individual experience. Here, he discusses in a uniquely comprehensive fashioning the subtleties of the clinical interaction, the findings of systematic research, and the role of social, economic, and historical forces in our lives. The chapters in this book help to transcend the tunnel vision that can lead therapists of different orientations to ignore the important discoveries and innovations from competing approaches. 

Explicating the pervasive role of vicious circles and self-fulfilling prophecies in our lives, Cyclical Psychodynamics and the Contextual Self shows how deeply intertwined the subjective, the intersubjective, and the cultural realms are, and points to new pathways to therapeutic and social change. Both a theoretical tour de force and an immensely practical guide to clinical practice, this book will be essential reading for psychoanalysts, psychotherapists and students of human behavior of all backgrounds and theoretical orientations.

The Future of the Brain: Essays by the World's Leading Neuroscientists
Gary Marcus and Jeremy Freeman, Editors
Including a chapter by 2014 Nobel laureates May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser 

An unprecedented look at the quest to unravel the mysteries of the human brain, The Future of the Brain takes readers to the absolute frontiers of science. Original essays by leading researchers such as Christof Koch, George Church, Olaf Sporns, and May-Britt and Edvard Moser describe the spectacular technological advances that will enable us to map the more than eighty-five billion neurons in the brain, as well as the challenges that lie ahead in understanding the anticipated deluge of data and the prospects for building working simulations of the human brain. A must-read for anyone trying to understand ambitious new research programs such as the Obama administration's BRAIN Initiative and the European Union's Human Brain Project, The Future of the Brain sheds light on the breathtaking implications of brain science for medicine, psychiatry, and even human consciousness itself.

Contributors include: Misha Ahrens, Ned Block, Matteo Carandini, George Church, John Donoghue, Chris Eliasmith, Simon Fisher, Mike Hawrylycz, Sean Hill, Christof Koch, Leah Krubitzer, Michel Maharbiz, Kevin Mitchell, Edvard Moser, May-Britt Moser, David Poeppel, Krishna Shenoy, Olaf Sporns, Anthony Zador.

The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind
Michio Kaku 

I included this book because it is representative of the state of the science in (mis)understanding the mind. I disagree with several of the basic (reductionist) premises Kaku takes as givens.
The New York Times best-selling author of PHYSICS OF THE IMPOSSIBLE, PHYSICS OF THE FUTURE and HYPERSPACE tackles the most fascinating and complex object in the known universe: the human brain.
For the first time in history, the secrets of the living brain are being revealed by a battery of high tech brain scans devised by physicists. Now what was once solely the province of science fiction has become a startling reality. Recording memories, telepathy, videotaping our dreams, mind control, avatars, and telekinesis are not only possible; they already exist.
THE FUTURE OF THE MIND gives us an authoritative and compelling look at the astonishing research being done in top laboratories around the world—all based on the latest advancements in neuroscience and physics.  One day we might have a "smart pill" that can enhance our cognition; be able to upload our brain to a computer, neuron for neuron; send thoughts and emotions around the world on a "brain-net"; control computers and robots with our mind; push the very limits of immortality; and perhaps even send our consciousness across the universe.

Dr. Kaku takes us on a grand tour of what the future might hold, giving us not only a solid sense of how the brain functions but also how these technologies will change our daily lives. He even presents a radically new way to think about "consciousness" and applies it to provide fresh insight into mental illness, artificial intelligence and alien consciousness. 

With Dr. Kaku's deep understanding of modern science and keen eye for future developments, THE FUTURE OF THE MIND is a scientific tour de force--an extraordinary, mind-boggling exploration of the frontiers of neuroscience.

Manifesting minds: A Review of Psychedelics in Science, Medicine, Sex, and Spirituality
Rick Doblin, PhD, and Brad Burge, Editors
Featuring essays and interviews with Timothy Leary, Aldous Huxley, Ram Dass, Albert Hofmann, Alexander (Sasha) Shulgin, Daniel Pinchbeck, Tim Robbins, Arne Naess, and electronic musician Simon Posford, as well as groundbreaking research and personal accounts, this one-of-a-kind anthology is a "best of" collection of articles and essays published by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). Topics include the healing use of marijuana and psychedelics--including MDMA, ibogaine, LSD, and ayahuasca--for PTSD, anxiety, depression, and drug addiction, as well as positive effects of these substances in the realm of the arts, family, spirituality, ecology, and technology.

Among many other thought-provoking and mind-opening pieces are the following:
• "On Leary and Drugs at the End," by Carol Rosen and Vicki Marshall
• "Psychedelic Rites of Passage," by Ram Dass
• "To Be Read at the Funeral," by Albert Hofmann
• "Another Green World: Psychedelics and Ecology," by Daniel Pinchbeck
• "Psychedelics and Species Connectedness," by Stanley Krippner, PhD
• "Huxley on Drugs and Creativity," by Aldous Huxley
• "Psychedelics and the Deep Ecology Movement: A Conversation with Arne Naess," by Mark A. Schroll, PhD, and David Rothenberg
• "Psychedelic Sensibility," by Tom Robbins
• "Electronic Music and Psychedelics: An Interview with Simon Posford of Shpongle," by David Jay Brown
• "How Psychedelics Informed My Sex Life and Sex Work," by Annie Sprinkle
• "Consideration of Ayahuasca for the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder," by Jessica Nielson, PhD, and Julie Megler, MSN, NP-BC
• "Psychedelics and Extreme Sports," by James Oroc
• "Youth and Entheogens: A Modern Rite of Passage?," by Andrei Foldes with Amba, Eric Johnson, et al.
• "Diary of an MDMA Subject," by Anonymous
• "Dimethyltryptamine: Possible Endogenous Ligand of the Sigma-1 Receptor?," by Adam L. Halberstadt
• "Lessons from Psychedelic Therapy," by Richard Yensen, PhD
• "Psychosomatic Medicine, Psychoneuroimmunology, and Psychedelics," by Ana Maqueda
• "Talking with Ann and Sasha Shulgin about the Existence of God and the Pleasures of Sex and Drugs," by Jon Hanna and Silvia Thyssen

Memory Development from Early Childhood Through Emerging Adulthood
Wolfgang Schneider
Based on decades of established research findings in cognitive and developmental psychology, this volume explores and integrates the leading scientific advances into infancy and brain-memory linkages as well as autobiographical and strategic memory. In addition, given that the predominantly classic research on memory development has recently been complemented by more cutting-edge applied research (e.g., eyewitness memory, memory development in educational contexts) in recent years, this volume also provides in-depth and up-to-date coverage of these emerging areas of study.

Metacognition: Fundaments, Applications, and Trends - A Profile of the Current State-Of-The-Art
Alejandro Peña-Ayala, Editor
This book is devoted to the Metacognition arena. It highlights works that show relevant analysis, reviews, theoretical, and methodological proposals, as well as studies, approaches, applications, and tools that shape current state, define trends and inspire future research. As a result of the revision process fourteen manuscripts were accepted and organized into five parts as follows:

· Conceptual: contains conceptual works oriented to: (1) review models of strategy instruction and tailor a hybrid strategy; (2) unveil second-order judgments and define a method to assess metacognitive judgments; (3) introduces a conceptual model to describe the metacognitive activity as an autopoietic system.

· Framework: offers three works concerned with: (4) stimulate metacognitive skills and self-regulatory functions; (5) evaluate metacognitive skills and self-regulated learning at problem solving; (6) deal with executive management metacognition and strategic knowledge metacognition.

· Studies: reports research related to: (7) uncover how metacognitive awareness of listening strategies bias listening proficiency; (8) unveil how metacognitive skills and motivation are achieved in science informal learning; (9) tackle stress at learning by means of coping strategies.

· Approaches: focus on the following targets: (10) social metacognition to support collaborative problem solving; (11) metacognitive skills to be stimulated in computer supported collaborative learning; (12) metacognitive knowledge and metacognitive experiences are essential for teaching practices. 

· Tools: promotes the use of intelligent tutoring systems such as: (13) BioWorld allows learners to practice medical diagnostic by providing virtual patient cases; (14) MetaHistoReasoning provides examples to learners and inquiries about the causes of historical events.

This volume will be a source of interest for researchers, practitioners, professors, and postgraduate students aimed at updating their knowledge and finding targets for future work in the metacognition arena.

The Myth of Mirror Neurons: The Real Neuroscience of Communication and Cognition
Gregory Hickok, PhD

An essential reconsideration of one of the most far-reaching theories in modern neuroscience and psychology.

In 1992, a group of neuroscientists from Parma, Italy, reported a new class of brain cells discovered in the motor cortex of the macaque monkey. These cells, later dubbed mirror neurons, responded equally well during the monkey’s own motor actions, such as grabbing an object, and while the monkey watched someone else perform similar motor actions. Researchers speculated that the neurons allowed the monkey to understand others by simulating their actions in its own brain. 
Mirror neurons soon jumped species and took human neuroscience and psychology by storm. In the late 1990s theorists showed how the cells provided an elegantly simple new way to explain the evolution of language, the development of human empathy, and the neural foundation of autism. In the years that followed, a stream of scientific studies implicated mirror neurons in everything from schizophrenia and drug abuse to sexual orientation and contagious yawning.

In The Myth of Mirror Neurons, neuroscientist Gregory Hickok reexamines the mirror neuron story and finds that it is built on a tenuous foundation—a pair of codependent assumptions about mirror neuron activity and human understanding. Drawing on a broad range of observations from work on animal behavior, modern neuroimaging, neurological disorders, and more, Hickok argues that the foundational assumptions fall flat in light of the facts. He then explores alternative explanations of mirror neuron function while illuminating crucial questions about human cognition and brain function: Why do humans imitate so prodigiously? How different are the left and right hemispheres of the brain? Why do we have two visual systems? Do we need to be able to talk to understand speech? What’s going wrong in autism? Can humans read minds?

The Myth of Mirror Neurons not only delivers an instructive tale about the course of scientific progress—from discovery to theory to revision—but also provides deep insights into the organization and function of the human brain and the nature of communication and cognition.

Neuronal Dynamics: From Single Neurons to Networks and Models of Cognition
Wulfram Gerstner, Werner M . Kistler, Richard Naud, Liam Paninski
What happens in our brain when we make a decision? What triggers a neuron to send out a signal? What is the neural code? This textbook for advanced undergraduate and beginning graduate students provides a thorough and up-to-date introduction to the fields of computational and theoretical neuroscience. It covers classical topics, including the Hodgkin-Huxley equations and Hopfield model, as well as modern developments in the field such as Generalized Linear Models and decision theory. Concepts are introduced using clear step-by-step explanations suitable for readers with only a basic knowledge of differential equations and probabilities, and are richly illustrated by figures and worked-out examples. End-of-chapter summaries and classroom-tested exercises make the book ideal for courses or for self-study. The authors also give pointers to the literature and an extensive bibliography, which will prove invaluable to readers interested in further study.

The Feeling Body: Affective Science Meets the Enactive Mind
Giovanna Colombetti

In The Feeling Body, Giovanna Colombetti takes ideas from the enactive approach developed over the last twenty years in cognitive science and philosophy of mind and applies them for the first time to affective science -- the study of emotions, moods, and feelings. She argues that enactivism entails a view of cognition as not just embodied but also intrinsically affective, and she elaborates on the implications of this claim for the study of emotion in psychology and neuroscience. 

In the course of her discussion, Colombetti focuses on long-debated issues in affective science, including the notion of basic emotions, the nature of appraisal and its relationship to bodily arousal, the place of bodily feelings in emotion experience, the neurophysiological study of emotion experience, and the bodily nature of our encounters with others. Drawing on enactivist tools such as dynamical systems theory, the notion of the lived body, neurophenomenology, and phenomenological accounts of empathy, Colombetti advances a novel approach to these traditional issues that does justice to their complexity. Doing so, she also expands the enactive approach into a further domain of inquiry, one that has more generally been neglected by the embodied-embedded approach in the philosophy of cognitive science.

The Origins of Attachment: Infant Research and Adult Treatment
Beatrice Beebe and Frank M. Lachmann

Technically, this book came out at the end of 2013, but I am including it anyway because it is a RECOMMENDED READ, especially for therapists (according to me).
The Origins of Attachment: Infant Research and Adult Treatment addresses the origins of attachment in mother-infant face-to-face communication. New patterns of relational disturbance in infancy are described. These aspects of communication are out of conscious awareness. They provide clinicians with new ways of thinking about infancy, and about nonverbal communication in adult treatment.
Utilizing an extraordinarily detailed microanalysis of videotaped mother-infant interactions at 4 months, Beatrice Beebe, Frank Lachmann, and their research collaborators provide a more fine-grained and precise description of the process of attachment transmission. Second-by-second microanalysis operates like a social microscope and reveals more than can be grasped with the naked eye.

The book explores how, alongside linguistic content, the bodily aspect of communication is an essential component of the capacity to communicate and understand emotion. The moment-to-moment self- and interactive processes of relatedness documented in infant research form the bedrock of adult face-to-face communication and provide the background fabric for the verbal narrative in the foreground.

The Origins of Attachment is illustrated throughout with several case vignettes of adult treatment. Discussions by Carolyn Clement, Malcolm Slavin and E. Joyce Klein, Estelle Shane, Alexandra Harrison and Stephen Seligman show how the research can be used by practicing clinicians. This book details aspects of bodily communication between mothers and infants that will provide useful analogies for therapists of adults. It will be essential reading for psychoanalysts, psychotherapists and graduate students.

Collaborators Joseph Jaffe, Sara Markese, Karen A. Buck, Henian Chen, Patricia Cohen, Lorraine Bahrick, Howard Andrews, Stanley Feldstein

Discussants Carolyn Clement, Malcolm Slavin, E. Joyce Klein, Estelle Shane, Alexandra Harrison, Stephen Seligman

The Therapeutic Use of Ayahuasca
Beatriz Caiuby Labate and Clancy Cavnar, Editors

This book also came out at the end of 2013, but it is an important collection of articles on a topic that has been taboo in academic circles for far too long.
This book presents a series of perspectives on the therapeutic potential of the ritual and clinical use of the Amazonian hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca in the treatment and management of various diseases and ailments, especially its role in psychological well-being and substance dependence. Biomedical and anthropological data on the use of ayahuasca for treating depression, PTSD, and substance dependence in different settings, such as indigenous contexts, neo-shamanic rituals, contemporary therapeutic circles, and in ayahuasca religions, in both South and North America, are presented and critiqued. Though multiple anecdotal reports on the therapeutic use of ayahuasca exist, there has been no systematic and dense reflection on the topic thus far. The book brings the therapeutic use of ayahuasca to a new level of public examination and academic debate. The texts in this volume stimulate discussion on methodological, ethical, and political aspects of research and will enhance the development of this emergent field of studies.

Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia: Why People Sometimes Hear Voices, Believe Things that Others Find Strange, or Appear Out of Touch with Reality, and What Can Help
Edited by Anne Cooke
A report by the Division of Clinical Psychology (BPS)

RECOMMENDED READ. This is an important new book in that the authors have taken a client-centered, relational perspective on psychosis, one of the most misunderstood and stigmatized psychological adaptations to trauma. And it's FREE to download.
Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia: Why people sometimes hear voices, believe things that others find strange, or appear out of touch with reality, and what can help has been written by a group of eminent clinical psychologists drawn from eight universities and six NHS trusts, together with people who have themselves experienced psychosis. 

It provides an accessible overview of the current state of knowledge, and its conclusions have profound implications both for the way we understand ‘mental illness’ and for the future of mental health services. 

Many people believe that schizophrenia is a frightening brain disease that makes people unpredictable and potentially violent, and can only be controlled by medication.  However research conducted over the last 20 years and brought together in this report reveals that this view is false. Rather:
  • The problems we think of as ‘psychosis’ – hearing voices, believing things that others find strange, or appearing out of touch with reality – can be understood in the same way as other psychological problems such as anxiety or shyness.
  • They are often a reaction to trauma or adversity of some kind which impacts on the way we experience and interpret the world.
  • They rarely lead to violence.
  • No one can tell for sure what has caused a particular person’s problems. The only way is to sit down with them and try and work it out.
  • Services should not insist that people see themselves as ill.  Some prefer to think of their problems as, for example, an aspect of their personality which sometimes gets them into trouble but which they would not want to be without.
  • We need to invest much more in prevention by attending to inequality and child maltreatment.  Concentrating resources only on treating existing problems is like mopping the floor while the tap is still running.
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