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Neurobehavioral assessment in forensic practice

George W. Woods, David Freedman & Stephen Greenspan.

International Journal of Law and Psychiatry

Volume 35, Issues 5–6, September–December 2012, Pages 432–439



There is a growing awareness among mental health practitioners that many mental disorders previously believed to be primarily behavioral in nature, reflecting character and environment, are actually grounded in brain mal-development or brain disorder. This growing awareness, influenced by the advent of new diagnostic procedures and measures, is also found among forensic practitioners. In this paper, we describe some of the elements involved in conducting a neurobehavioral assessment of cognitive functioning, particularly in capital cases, organizing this material in terms of the professional disciplines – social work, mitigation investigation, psychological, and medical – with which these methods are mainly identified. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of how to integrate the multiple areas of expertise to create an accurate understanding of the neurobehavioral functioning and capacity of the subject. This is the basis from which civil and criminal forensic opinions must emanate.



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