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Book Reviews
July 2000

The Developing Mind: Toward a Neurobiology of Interpersonal Experience

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by Daniel J. Siegel, MD, 396 pp, no illus, ISBN 1-57230-453-7, $37.95, New York, NY, Guilford Press, 1999.

Arch Neurol. 2000;57(7):1081-1082. doi:

When applied to human behavior, the terms psychosocial and neurobiological generally connote mutual exclusivity. The nebulous labyrinth of thoughts, feelings, and emotions in an individual and how social interaction influences their emergence and integration are typically viewed apart from the action of neurotransmitters in functionally defined cerebral neural networks. Siegel's book bridges this gap in proposing a dialectical framework of "interpersonal neurobiology." In this book, dichotomous views of mind-brain, cognitive-emotional processes, and left hemisphere–right hemisphere functional specialization are expunged in favor of an interactive and integrated neuroscientific perspective. The principal theme of the book, the role of early social interaction in shaping the genetically constrained elaboration of the neural substrates underlying human behavior, may be deconstructed as follows: "genes rule, experience dictates" and "no cerebral hemisphere is an island unto itself." The genetic contribution to cognitive-emotional development receives only cursory treatment at the expense of the author's primary focus on social and experiential influences. However, the integration of emotional processes and social behavior within a cognitive framework that includes dynamic interactions both within and between brains treads new ground in defining a common neurobiological foundation for developmental and cognitive neuropsychology.

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