If you’re looking at forensic neuropsychological evaluations to help determine the responsibility of a criminal defendant, you’ll need a basic understanding of how it works and what it entails. This article will divulge those details and provide some additional information that would be pertinent if you were going through this process in real life. Note that this is not a comprehensive guide and only covers the basics; in order to learn more about what goes into making these evaluations, consult with an experienced professional.
What is Forensic Neuropsychology?
Forensic neuropsychology is the scientific method of using neuropsychological testing to determine a person’s mental state at the time of a crime. This is accomplished by examining brain activity as it is measured with neuroimaging tools and then matching that activity with behavioral responses to determine whether or not the crime was committed by that specific individual. These results are then compared against established criteria to determine if the defendant “fits” those criteria (i.e. did he have enough brain damage to incapacitate him, etc.).
Who is Forensic Neuropsychology for?
A forensic neuropsychologist is an expert who evaluates brain activity to determine a person’s mental state. This is done by comparing the results that are generated during the testing with accepted criteria.
The person being tested would receive an invasive investigation, which can vary in terms of specific procedures and how much information is collected. It could include blood tests, genetic screenings, psychological testing, head scans, or anything else that helps determine his mental state at the time of the crimes. A forensic neuropsychologist will then make a determination about what level of brain functioning was present at the time of the crime based on those results as well as medical information.
Examples of Forensic Neuropsychology
There are several ways that forensic neuropsychology can be used, but it is primarily designed to determine whether or not a person was experiencing a mental disorder when he committed the crime.
If the crime was murder, for example, and the defendant knew exactly what he was doing when he killed the victim, then he would be charged with first-degree murder (which is by definition pre-meditated). If he had no idea that he was killing someone, or if he didn’t know who they were or why they were being killed (i.e. they thought they were killing an intruder), then it would be considered second-degree murder or manslaughter depending on the circumstances surrounding his mental state at the time.
This information is used during sentencing to help determine what factors should be taken into account, sort through the different possible outcomes (for example, a life sentence versus a death sentence), and determine whether or not other mental impairment contributed to his actions.
A forensic neuropsychologist determines if the defendant was sane at the time of the crime and if those mental impairments contributed to his actions.
Where can you get more information about Forensic Neuropsychology?
If you’re going through a forensic neuropsychological evaluation, you can contact a local neuropsychologist for more information about what to expect and how the process will unfold.
If you’re on the other side of the law, consult with an attorney whether or not this type of evaluation could help your case.
There are also many articles like this one that can help you learn more about forensic neuropsychology, so be sure to do a thorough search before trying to go through it on your own. You may also be interested in learning more about other psychological assessments such as an intelligence test or personality test.