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Forensic Neuropsychology & The Criminal Law, By Martell Daniel

3583 words - 15 pages

Before proceeding with the review of this article we should first be clear with the meaning of the term forensic neuropsychology. Forensic neuropsychology involves the evaluation of subjects by application of clinical neuropsychological assessment methods. This particular branch of forensic science plays a key role when it comes to evaluating the criminal competency of an individual to stand trial, insanity defences, diminished criminal responsibility, criminal mitigation, etc. A neuropsychological evaluation is an assessment of the cognitive and behavioural functions using a set of standardized tests and procedures, professionals call these sets of tests or procedures as a battery of test. Various mental functions are systematically tested, including, but not limited to:
I. Intelligence
II. Problem solving & conceptualization
III. Planning & organization
IV. Attention, memory, & learning
V. Language
VI. Academic skills
VII. Perceptual & motor abilities
VIII. Emotions, behaviour, & personality.
There exist a whole lot of differences between neuropsychology practice in the general clinical setting & that of the forensic setting. The major objective of the clinical neuropsychological assessment is to most often to alleviate the human suffering by improving the mental condition of a particular person. The major goal of forensic evaluation, on the other hand, is to determine whether the psychological condition of a defendant makes him criminally competent to stand the trial. The concept of ‘competency” can be broadly defined as the capacity to decide or perform a few definite functions. From a legal point of view, the principle of competency entails the concept of knowledge. It implies a persons’ understanding of issues pertaining to participation in a specific legal proceeding.
The author of this article have highlighted the fact that, by virtue of its ability to distinguish & describe the emotional, as well as behavioural implication of a particular abnormal brain condition, forensic neuropsychology has started playing a key role when it comes to judicial decision making. The article also highlighted the point that previously forensic neuropsychology gained prominence only in the realm of the civil law, but in the contemporary times the judicial bodies have started to lay a huge amount of reliance on this particular discipline of forensic science when it comes to the resolution of criminal-legal issues. The author also talks about the extent & the scope of the term “mental defect & disease”, author is of the view that this particular term is quite nonspecific in nature, as it includes organic disease such as brain tumours, cerebrovascular disease, etc., the term also includes certain mental defects such as acquired head injuries, perinatal brain abnormalities etc. The problem which arises in this context is that, certain organic disorder or mental defect for that matter might or might not result in abnormalities. When we talk about...

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