Insanity is a distinctive element of criminal law because it brings together two very different disciplines, psychiatry and psychology on the one hand and the law on the other. It might strongly benefit from the introduction of structural neuroimaging, that, however, had so far a limited translational impact. Brain imaging purports to demonstrate functional status and thereby it can be useful to provide a scientific explanation for the clinical symptoms strenghtening the medico-legal reasoning. Despite international cases using brain imaging to support diminished responsibility, in Italy there are still a lot of controversies. Is the neuroscientific logic deterministic? How may the classic psychiatric/neurologic examination and neuroscientific evidence work side by side? Are the symptoms not legally relevant really not relevant? Could the study of the brain inform the clinical diagnosis? Could the study of the brain inform the expert opinion on responsibility and insanity? In this chapter, we describe the cognitive and behavioral profile of a defendant charged with murder, as well as his brain imaging correlates. Through the analysis of this real forensic case, we address the above questions and conclude that neuroscience may strengthen the results of psychiatric evaluations, thus reducing uncertainty in the forensic settings. We claim that besides the clinical diagnosis, the study of the brain allows a better understanding of the individual acts.

The Methodology of Forensic Neuroscience

Giuseppe Sartori;Graziella Orrù;
2020

Abstract

Insanity is a distinctive element of criminal law because it brings together two very different disciplines, psychiatry and psychology on the one hand and the law on the other. It might strongly benefit from the introduction of structural neuroimaging, that, however, had so far a limited translational impact. Brain imaging purports to demonstrate functional status and thereby it can be useful to provide a scientific explanation for the clinical symptoms strenghtening the medico-legal reasoning. Despite international cases using brain imaging to support diminished responsibility, in Italy there are still a lot of controversies. Is the neuroscientific logic deterministic? How may the classic psychiatric/neurologic examination and neuroscientific evidence work side by side? Are the symptoms not legally relevant really not relevant? Could the study of the brain inform the clinical diagnosis? Could the study of the brain inform the expert opinion on responsibility and insanity? In this chapter, we describe the cognitive and behavioral profile of a defendant charged with murder, as well as his brain imaging correlates. Through the analysis of this real forensic case, we address the above questions and conclude that neuroscience may strengthen the results of psychiatric evaluations, thus reducing uncertainty in the forensic settings. We claim that besides the clinical diagnosis, the study of the brain allows a better understanding of the individual acts.
Sartori, Giuseppe; Orru', Graziella; Scarpazza, Cristina
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11568/1044460
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