Forming a 'Brain Print:' Using Cognitive Neuroscience and Brain Imaging as an Objective Measure of Criminal Insanity
Lincoln Memorial University Law Review, Volume 10, Issue 1, 2022
54 Pages Posted: 2 Jan 2023
Date Written: December 23, 2022
Criminal insanity has been popularized by fiction. Yet, despite its popularity in the virtual world, it is rarely used in real life. The reasons for this are many, but chief among them is that mental disorders that may inhibit a defendant's ability to form reasonable cognitive representations of reality often do not impact his ability to form the requisite mental state that is an element of the crime. Thus, the legal definition of criminal insanity refers to a mental defect that affects a defendant's ability to appreciate her actions at the time of the crime or to understand that her actions are wrong. Further complicating matters is how these internal states can be proven in a court beyond a reasonable doubt, especially since mental health professionals disagree about which psychometric measure to apply in evaluating insanity. This paper seeks to shed new light on the mental categories in criminal law using modern cognitive neuroscience and neurophysiology. I argue that mathematical modeling and functional neuroimaging of brain networks in normal and diseased minds can help form a brain print such that disruptions in the network lead to objectively measurable cognitive dysfunctions in the kinds of mental disorders that arise in criminal insanity.
Keywords: Cognitive Neuroscience, Law, Criminal Law, Criminal Insanity, Neurophysiology, Graph Theory, NeuroLaw
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