Limitations using neuroimaging to reconstruct mental state after a crime

Michael J Vitacco, Alynda M. Randolph, Rebecca J. Nelson Aguiar, Megan L. Porter Staats

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neuroimaging offers great potential to clinicians and researchers for a host of mental and physical conditions. The use of imaging has been trumpeted for forensic psychiatric and psychological evaluations to allow greater insight into the relationship between the brain and behavior. The results of imaging certainly can be used to inform clinical diagnoses; however, there continue to be limitations in using neuroimaging for insanity cases due to limited scientific backing for how neuroimaging can inform retrospective evaluations of mental state. In making this case, this paper reviews the history of the insanity defense and explains how the use of neuroimaging is not an effective way of improving the reliability of insanity defense evaluations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)694-701
Number of pages8
JournalCambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021


  • Brain and behavior
  • Clinical diagnoses
  • Forensic psychiatric and psychological evaluations
  • Insanity defense
  • Neuroimaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health Policy


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