Neuroscience-based Psychiatric Assessments of Criminal Responsibility: Beyond Self-Report?

Gerben Meynen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Many legal systems have an insanity defense, which means that although a person has committed a crime, she is not held criminally responsible for the act. A challenge with regard to these assessments is that forensic psychiatrists have to rely to a considerable extent on the defendant's self-report. Could neuroscience be a way to make these evaluations more objective? The current value of neuroimaging in insanity assessments will be examined. The author argues that neuroscience can be valuable for diagnosing neurological illnesses, rather than psychiatric disorders. Next, he discusses to what extent neurotechnological 'mind reading' techniques, if they would become available in the future, could be useful to get beyond self-report in forensic psychiatry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-458
Number of pages13
JournalCambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics
Issue number3
Early online date2 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • forensic psychiatry
  • insanity defense
  • neuroimaging
  • neurological illness
  • psychiatric disorders


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