Forensic Neuro-Psychology Crafted by
Mebin Wilson Thomas
Department of Forensic Science
JAIN (Deemed-to-be University)
Introduction to Forensic Neuropsychology
Forensic Neuropsychology is a new and rapidly evolving subspecialty of clinical neuropsychology that applies neuropsychological principles and practices to matters that pertain to legal decision-making. Forensic neuropsychologists provide the trier of fact with specialized information regarding brain-behavior relationships. The neuropsychological examination may be used to assist in determining competency to stand trial, issues of responsibility for the crime, or in sentencing/mitigation criminal litigation.
The field of forensic neuropsychology is quite new and is rapidly evolving. Neuropsychology involves the research and understanding of brain-behavior relationships. It often involves an objective assessment of how brain abnormalities produce psychological effects. It also evaluates brain damage and brain disorders.
The testing is applied to the justice system using neuropsychological concepts, principles and assessment procedures. Often times, the court system will refer suspects and witnesses for forensic neuropsychological evaluations to determine neurocognitive impairments that might be directly associated with development disorders, or psychiatric or neurologic conditions. These types of evaluations provide the court system the objective information required to help make decisions in criminal and civil cases.
On behalf of Sherlock institute of forensic science, we had a short interview with Mebin Wilson Thomas and here is what he says to all the student community and life time learners of forensic science.
1. First of all, please share your experiences with us while crafting this amazing quiz? what you wanted to impart on people?
Neuropsychology is considered to be the one of the most interesting and innovative area in the field of psychology which also has a lot of application in describing, explaining and predicting criminal behaviour. When dealing with various theories of criminal behaviour, we primarily focus onsociological and cultural theories and we hardly concentrate on neuroscience perspectives which can provide a scientific outlook and objectivity in explaining various aspect of criminal behaviour. My intention through this quiz intends to equip students with necessary knowledge and instill a scientific outlook towards criminal behaviour from a Neuroscience perspective.
2. How do you see the implication of neuropsychology in criminal investigation?
Neuropsychology is one of the most promising fields in neuroscience. This branch of psychology holds tremendous scope especially in the clinical, forensic, educational fields as well as in the corporate world. Acquiring necessary knowledge on understanding and improving brain functions can dramatically help novices intending to take their career forward in this area. Many neurobiological abnormalities have been reported in patients with violent and criminal behaviour. Strong associations exist between aggressive/violent behaviour and brain dysfunction. Many studies support an association between frontal lobe dysfunction and increased aggressive or antisocial behaviour. Brain research suggests that deficits in frontal lobe executive functions may increase the likelihood of future aggression.
3. What is the scope of neuropsychology in Indian and global Scenario?
Neuropsychology as a specialization started in India approximately 40 years ago. The early years witnessed the use of Western tools for assessing patients with organic brain damage. Subsequent years saw the development of indigenous tools for use with the vast majority of the Indian population and also a few Western tests adapted to suit the needs of the unique Indian clients. The starting of the Neuropsychology unit at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) in Bangalore in 1975 resulted in changing of the course of training and practice of Neuropsychology. The field of assessments has witnessed indigenous tests being developed, while rehabilitation programs have brought about a decline in cognitive deficits in several clinical conditions. Currently, work within the field of neuropsychology has focused on child, geriatric, acquired brain injury, and forensic populations with a development of unique rehabilitations to suit needs of several clinical conditions. However, there are very few neuropsychologists in the country, and only one nodal training center, which limits the availability of training to the large population of the country.
With increasing number of medico-legal cases, neuropsychologists are frequently required to engage in forensic work. Most often the forensic work pertains to seeking financial compensation for traumatic brain injuries following Road traffic accidents. The experts are required to conduct a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment to document current cognitive status of the patient of the client, to evaluate the patient’s cognitive strengths and weakness, and competency to stand trial in the court. The court also requests for the extent of cognitive disability in terms of percentage of disability similar to physical disability. Expert opinion for the same patient may be sought from other medical experts including Neurosurgeons, Neurologist, and Psychiatrist for neurological and psychiatric opinion.
4. I really appreciate your time sir for giving us such insights into the subject and also for preparing such an engaging Quiz. What would be your message for the aspiring Forensic students?
I highly recommend the forensic students, especially aspirants of forensic psychology should put an effort to understand the basics of neuroscience and its application in unveiling the criminal behaviour. Moreover, such candidates can take up online certifications pertaining to Neurosciences from Coursera, Udemy, Future Learn etc which can enhance their knowledge and skill in interpreting criminal behaviour from a neuroscience perspective.