Lincoln Memorial University Law Review Archive

First & Last Page



Fiction popularized the concept of criminal insanity. Yet, despite its popularity in the virtual world, it is rarely used in real life. The chief reason for this 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 a key element of a crime: the requisite mental state. 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 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.

Included in

Law Commons