To understand mental function, we need to uncover the representations and processes underlying our ability to comprehend and to produce words, sentences,numbers and objects (or pictures of them). The unique contribution of the field of cognitive neuropsychology is the investigation of these representations and processes in individuals who have sustained selective brain damage. Indeed, studies of such individuals provide a window into the mental system and allow us to explore the functional architecture that is necessary and sufficient for cognition.
This special issue of Cognitive Neuropsychology is a collection of papers that exemplifies this type of cognitive neuropsychology research. The special issue is designed to honour and pay tribute to Eleanor M. Saffran, one of the pioneers of this discipline, who adopted this approach in her wide-ranging investigations of individuals with cognitive impairment following brain damage.
The papers included in this collection all explore issues concerning behavioural and neural mechanisms mediating cognition and are divided into four separate sections. Two of these focus on language, with the emphasis of the first on single word recognition and the second on processes that are invoked beyond the single word level. Conceptual and semantic processes are covered in a third section and the final section is concerned with issues related to more peripheral processes, which, when impaired, give rise to alexia, agnosia and/or agraphia. This extensive collection of papers represents a comprehensive overview of the current state of the field and the papers elucidate the most recent findings in the domain of cognitive neuropsychology.