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Forensic Neuropsychology: Defining Criminal Behavior

Define forensic neuropsychology as it relates to criminology. Explain how forensic neuropsychology could redefine the manner in which we classify criminals. What would be the significance if it were found that criminal behavior stemmed from a physiological impairment in the brain rather than a purely psychological or social cause?

Please include references.

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1. Define forensic neuropsychology, as it relates to criminology

One definition of forensic neuropsychology:

"The word "Forensic" is taken from "Forensis", the legal forum in Rome where legal proceedings were held. Forensic Neuropsychology involves the application neuropsychological theory, research, methodology, and knowledge to address legal issues. An independent forensic neuropsychological examination, also referred to as an independent medical examination (IME) independent psychological examination, or compulsory examination in some jurisdictions, is performed by a neuropsychologist who is hired as an independent contractor by a third party, such as an insurance company, an attorney, or the court to make a determination regarding neuropsychological functioning" (1).

Its role has evolved in the realm of the civil law, given its relevance to issues in disability determination, workman's compensation, and personal injury cases. (1) Referral questions in civil litigation often involve determination of the presence or absence of neurological and/or psychiatric disorders, Causality related to a specific event or injury, prognosis, medical necessity of treatment and/or disability status.

Its role in criminal law is slowly evolving as well. For example, forensic neuropsychological evaluations apply to issues of competency to stand trial, criminal responsibility, in sentencing/mitigation and other competencies in the criminal process. Specific disorders are especially relevant to criminal law standards. The nature of the examination may range from a relatively brief clinical interview to a comprehensive examination that includes extensive psychological or neuropsychological test administration. (1) Research also provides data estimating the prevalence of brain dysfunction in criminal and forensic populations. Forensic neuropsychology also plays a role in researching and identifying the role of neuropsychological brain dysfunction in the etiology of violence and criminally relevant behavior. Finally, research investigates empirical and ethical issues concerning the applicability and admissibility of forensic neuropsychological data in the criminal context. (2)

However, the role of the neuropsychologist when performing an independent neuropsychological examination is narrowly defined. The neuropsychologist has been hired by a third party seeking answers to specific questions related to brain-behavior relationships. In contrast to clinical contexts, the neuropsychologist does not ...

Solution Summary

This solution defines forensic Neuropsychology as it relates to criminology and explains how forensic neuropsychology could redefine the manner in which we classify criminals. It then discusses what would be the significance if it were found that criminal behavior stemmed from a physiological impairment in the brain rather than a purely psychological or social cause.

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