Elkhonon Goldberg

Elkhonon Goldberg (b. 1946 Riga, Latvia) is a neuropsychologist and cognitive neuroscientist known for his work in hemispheric specialization and the "novelty-routinization" theory.


Goldberg studied at Moscow State University with the great neuropsychologist Alexander Luria and moved to the United States in 1974. He is currently a Clinical Professor of Neurology at New York University School of Medicine, Diplomate of The American Board of Professional Psychology in Clinical Neuropsychology, and Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Advisor of SharpBrains, an online brain fitness center. He offers post-doctoral training in Neuropsychology at Fielding Graduate University.

Scientific Work

At Moscow State University, Goldberg studied psychology and mathematics and was among the early proponents of the discipline known today as computational neuroscience. In the United States Goldberg's work has been more clinical in nature. His research has focused on the function of the frontal lobes, hemispheric specialization, memory, cognitive aging, and general theory of functional cortical organization.

Goldberg was among the early critics of the fashionable notion of neocortical modularity. Instead, he introduced the notion of "cognitive gradient" to capture the distributed and emergent properties of functional cortical organization. [O.W. Sacks, "Scotoma: Forgetting and Neglect in Science," in "Hidden Histories of Science", Ed. R.B. Silver (New York: New York Review of Books, 1996), 141-187.]

His work on hemispheric specialization culminated in the "novelty-routinization" theory positing that the two cerebral hemispheres are differentially involved in processing novel information (the right hemisphere) and processing in terms of well established cognitive routines (the left hemisphere). The novelty-routinization theory incorporates the more traditional distinction between verbal and nonverbal functions as a special case, but is more dynamic in nature, allows for evolutionary continuities, and provides a neurodevelopmental framework. Goldberg's work on frontal lobe functions includes the discovery of the "reticulo-frontal disconnection" syndrome, functional lateralization and gender differences in the prefrontal cortex. His work on memory includes the description of relatively pure retrograde amnesia without anterograde amnesia, which in turn has led to the elucidation of the role of brain stem arousal mechanisms in memory.

In clinical practice, Goldberg was among the early proponents of "cognitive fitness," purporting to harness the effects of life-long neuroplasticity to delay and even reverse the effects of cognitive aging. First introduced by Michael Merzenich, the concept has gained the support of a number of leading neuroscientists. Nonetheless, it remains controversial and further research is required to validate it.

Goldberg is an author of a number of scientific journal articles and book chapters, as well as of three books: "Contemporary Neuropsychology and the Legacy of Luria; The Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes and the Civilized Mind;" and "The Wisdom Paradox: How Your Mind Can Grow Stronger As Your Brain Grows Older".

ee also

* Brain fitness
* Alexander Romanovich Luria
* [http://www.headstrongbrain.com Brain Fitness] interview with Elkhonon Goldberg



* Elkhonon Goldberg. "Contemporary Neuropsychology and the Legacy of Luria", Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1990. ISBN 978-0805803341
* Elkhonon Goldberg. "The Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes and the Civilized Mind", NY: Oxford University Press, 2001; paperback 2002. ISBN 978-0195156300
* Elkhonon Goldberg. "The Wisdom Paradox: How Your Mind Can Grow Stronger As Your Brain Grows Older", NY: Penguin, 2005; paperback 2006. UK edition: Free Press, Simon & Schuster, 2005. ISBN 1592401872

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