Explaining Abnormal Behavior

A Cognitive Neuroscience Perspective

Bruce F. Pennington

Hardcovere-bookprint + e-book
January 28, 2014
ISBN 9781462513666
Price: $50.00 $10.00?
272 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"
January 28, 2014
ePub and PDF ?
Price: $50.00
272 Pages
print + e-book
Hardcover + e-Book (ePub and PDF) ?
Price: $100.00 $55.00
272 Pages

Highly readable and accessible, this book describes how research in cognitive science is transforming the way scientists and clinicians think about abnormal behavior. Bruce Pennington draws on work from multiple disciplines to identify compelling links among psychiatric, neurodevelopmental, and neurological disorders that are not generally studied together. Presenting cutting-edge work on the brain systems involved in key domains of neuropsychological functioning, Pennington sheds light on acquired neurological disorders like aphasia and amnesia, as well as the development of such conditions as schizophrenia, depression, dyslexia, autism, and intellectual disability. The book also reveals how the analysis of both typical and atypical brain-behavior relationships can contribute to a neural explanation of the self and consciousness.

“This remarkable book offers a broadly synthetic account of brain-behavior relationships by blending perspectives from the neurodevelopmental disorders, neurology, and psychiatry. Erudite, lucid, and engagingly written, the text brims with sparkling insights derived from Pennington's vast experience as a clinician and researcher. Rarely indeed can one find such breadth of knowledge combined with such clarity of exposition. I recommend this book to anyone interested in how neuroscience can reveal the workings of the human mind.”

— Christopher M. Filley, MD, Director, Behavioral Neurology Section, University of Colorado School of Medicine

“Pennington provides a highly original account of the study of abnormal behavior, putting the field in historical context and covering development, adult neuropsychology, and psychiatry in an integrated fashion. He not only explains current cognitive neuroscience models of abnormal behavior, but also makes us think deeply about the nature and explanatory adequacy of such models.”

—Dorothy Bishop, DPhil, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

“This critically important, timely volume shows how contemporary cognitive neuroscience has transformed our understanding of brain–behavior relationships and has led to new insights into the neural basis of functional impairments. Pennington emphasizes the explanatory power of connectionist or neural network models and demonstrates the ways in which the mechanisms underlying normal behavior and development help explain abnormal behavior. This book will inform a wide range of readers, from practicing scientists and practitioners to students. Ample references to related literatures and the learning exercises at the end of the chapters enhance its educational value.”

—H. Gerry Taylor, PhD, ABPP-CN, Center for Biobehavioral Health, Nationwide Children's Hospital Research Institute; Department of Pediatrics, The Ohio State University

“I highly recommend this book, which examines cognitive neuroscience models for abnormal behavior. The book is novel in that it applies the same set of models to a range of neurological, psychiatric, and neurodevelopmental disorders. Pennington is an internationally recognized expert in pediatric neuropsychology and neuroscience who displays an exquisite appreciation for the interplay between normal and abnormal development. This is an extremely valuable text for graduate-level courses on abnormal behavior.”

—Keith Owen Yeates, PhD, ABPP-CN, Department of Psychology, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Table of Contents

I. What Explanations Are Possible?

1. Scientific Explanation

2. Placing Neuroscience in the History of Science and Philosophy

3. History of the Localization of Function Debate

4. How Does the Brain Compute?

5. Classical and Contemporary Models of Abnormal Behavior

II. What Are the Disorders?

6. Disorders of Perception

7. Disorders of Attention

8. Disorders of Language

9. Disorders of Memory

10. Disorders of Action Selection

11. Disorders of State Regulation

12. Global Disorders

III. What Becomes of the Self?

13. How to Relate Self to Brain

Appendix A. Human Neocortical Regions

Appendix B. Online Resources


About the Author

Bruce F. Pennington, PhD, is John Evans Professor of Psychology at the University of Denver, where he heads the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience program. His research focuses on dyslexia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and autism, with particular interests in using genetic and neuropsychological methods to understand comorbidity among disorders. In addition to being a researcher and research mentor, he is also a child clinical neuropsychologist, and has been active in clinical practice and training throughout his career. Dr. Pennington is a recipient of Research Scientist, MERIT, and Fogarty awards from the National Institutes of Health; the Samuel T. Orton Award from the International Dyslexia Association; and the Emanuel Miller Memorial Lecture from the British Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health. He is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association for Psychological Science. He is the author of Diagnosing Learning Disorders, Second Edition, and coeditor (with Keith Owen Yeates et al.) of Pediatric Neuropsychology, Second Edition.


Neuropsychologists, neuroscientists, clinical and developmental psychologists, and psychiatrists.

Course Use

May serve as a supplemental text in graduate-level courses.