Neuropsychological Assessment in The Forensic Context: A Scoping Review


  • Letícia Venturi da Silva Department of Psychology, Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba, PR, Brazil
  • Amer Cavalheiro Hamdan Department of Psychology, Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba, PR, Brazil



Neuropsychology, Forensic psychology, Neuropsychological test


The introduction of neuropsychologists in legal practice allowed for the field of forensic neuropsychology to arise. However, it is still a recent field of knowledge that is in continuous development. The existing literature highlights the incipience of studies in this area and the need for adaptation of instruments and methods. Thus, this scoping review aims to analyze how neuropsychological assessment has been employed so far in the forensic context. In order to do this, a search and a follow-up were conducted in the databases PsycInfo, Scopus and Web of Science. The query used for both searches was "(neuropsychological assessment OR neuropsychological test)" AND "forensic" OR "forensic neuropsychology". Initially, 1001 papers were identified, and after a two-stage screening process, 83 articles were included for analysis. Regarding neuropsychological assessment, the most investigated constructs were cognitive levels, memory and symptom validity. The heterogeneity of employed instruments we found in the studies evidenced the great existing variability in forensic neuropsychological practice. Among the most assessed populations were individuals with psychiatric, psychological or neurological diagnoses and male adult detainees in general. With this review, we expect to provide an overview on the current state of forensic neuropsychology, as well as information that may serve as a starting point for new research and further developments in the field.


Serafim AP, Saffi F. A perícia em saúde mental. In: Serafim AP, Saffi F. (orgs.). Neuropsicologia forense. Porto Alegre: Editora Artmed. 2015; 46-56.

Serafim AP, Saffi F, Silva TGBD, Almeida CVD, Hokama E, Barros DMD, et al. Forensic neuropsychological assessment: a review of its scope. Archives of Clinical Psychiatry (São Paulo). 2015;42(2):63-7. DOI:

Kaufmann PM. Neuropsychologist experts and civil capacity evaluations: representative cases. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology. 2016;31:487-94. DOI:

Hom J. Forensic neuropsychology: Are we there yet? Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology. 2003;18:827-45. DOI:

Hall HV. Criminal and Civil-Forensic Factors in a Methamphetamine Murder Case. In: Hall HV, Poirier JG. Forensic Psychology and Neuropsychology for Criminal and Civil Cases - Second Edition. Reino Unido: Taylor & Francis Group; 2022, p.3-53. DOI:

Sweet JJ, Boone KB, Denney RL, Hebben N, Marcopulos BA, Morgan JE, Nelson, NW, Westerveld M. Forensic neuropsychology: History and current status. The Clinical neuropsychologist. 2022;1-16. DOI:

Arksey H, O'Malley L. Scoping studies: towards a methodological framework. International Journal of Social Research Methodology. 2005;8(1):19-32. DOI:

Canadian Institutes of Health Research. A guide to knowledge synthesis: a knowledge synthesis chapter. 2010.

Dunham KJ, Denney RL. Development of the Poor Validity Profile Analysis for the Medical Symptom Validity Test. Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2016;31:944-53. DOI:

Fazio RL, Denney RL. Comparison of Performance of the VIP and WMT in a Criminal Forensic Sample. Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2018;33:1069-79. DOI:

Fazio RL, Denning JH, Denney RL. TOMM Trial 1 as a performance validity indicator in a criminal forensic sample. Clin Neuropsychol. 2017;31(1):251-67. DOI:

Geurten M, Meulemans T, Seron X. Detecting over-reporting of symptoms: the French version of the self-report symptom inventory. Clin Neuropsychol. 2018;32(sup1):164-81. DOI:

Henry GK, Heilbronner RL, Suhr J, Gornbein J, Wagner E, Drane DL. Illness Perceptions Predict Cognitive Performance Validity. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2018; 24: 735-45. DOI:

Paulo R, Albuquerque PB. Detecting memory performance validity with DETECTS: A computerized performance validity test. Appl Neuropsychol Adult. 2017;26(1):48-57. DOI:

Bush SS, Lees-Haley PR. Treats to the validity of forensic neuropsychological data: ethical considerations. J Forensic Neuropsychol. 2006;4(3):45-66. DOI:

Seruca T, Silva CF. Recidivist criminal behaviour and executive functions: a comparative study. J Forensic Psychiatry Psychol. 2015;26(5):699-717. DOI:

Karyadi KA, Nitch SR, Kinney DI, Britt WG. Decision making of forensic psychiatric inpatients deemed incompetent to stand trial. Appl Neuropsychol Adult. 2020;29(1):66-76. DOI:

Arredondo BC, Marcopulos BA, Brand JG, Campbell KT, Kent J-A. Cognitive functioning and adjudicative competence: defendants referred for neuropsychological evaluation in a psychiatric inpatient setting. Clin Neuropsychol. 2017;31(8):1432-48. DOI:

Seidl H, Nilsson T, Hofvander B, Billstedt E, Wallinius M. Personality and Cognitive Functions in Violent Offenders - Implications of Character Maturity? Front Psychol. 2020;11(58):1-10. DOI:

Azizian A, Hutton S, Hughes D, Sreenivasan S. Cognitional Impairment: Is There a Role for Cognitive Assessment in the Treatment of Individuals Civilly Committed Pursuant to the Sexually Violent Predator Act? Sex Abus J Res Treat. 2016; 28(8): 755-69. DOI:

Justes SM, Robinat AP, Bouton MPP. Clock drawing test in forensic assessment. Spanish J Leg Med. 2018;44(4):144-9. DOI:

van Esch AYM, de Vries J, Masthoff EDM. Screening for intellectual disability in Dutch psychiatrically disturbed detainees: Assessing the psychometric properties of the Screener for Intelligence and Learning Disability (SCIL). J Appl Res Intellect Disabil. 2020;33(6):1418-27. DOI:

Ovsiew GP, Carter DA, Rhoads T, Resch ZJ, Jennette KJ, Soble JR. Concordance Between Standard and Abbreviated Administrations of the Test of Memory Malingering: Implications for Streamlining Performance Validity Assessment. Psychol Inj Law. 2021;14(2):134-43. DOI:

Poreh A, Bezdicek O, Korobkova I, Levin JB, Dines P. The Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test forced-choice recognition task: Base-rate data and norms. Appl Neuropsychol. 2016;23(3):155-61. DOI:

Poreh A, Tolfo S, Krivenko A, Teaford M. Base-rate data and norms for the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Embedded Performance Validity Indicator. Appl Neuropsychol Adult. 2017;24(6):540-7. DOI:

Zangrossi A, Sartori G, Prior M, Bobbo D, Zuccon M, Curci A. Memory performance predicts interrogative suggestibility better than global cognition in older adults with subjective cognitive complaints. Conscious Cogn. 2020; 84. DOI:

LaDuke C, DeMatteo D, Heilbrun K, Gallo J, Swirsky-Sacchetti T. The Neuropsychological Assessment of Justice-Involved Men: Descriptive Analysis, Preliminary Data, and a Case for Group-Specific Norms. Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2017;32: 929-42. DOI:

Monti C, Saffi F, Barros DM, Dias AM, Akiba HT, Serafim AP. Forensic neuropsychological assessment: clinical case of depression and working incapacity. Jornal Brasileiro de Psiquiatria. 2015;64(1):86-9. DOI:

Mullally K, McLachlan K, MacKillop E, Pei J. Performance validity testing in justice-involved adults with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2020; 26(7): 701-13. DOI:

Larrabee GJ, Rohling ML, Meyers JE. Use of multiple performance and symptom validity measures: Determining the optimal per test cutoff for determination of invalidity, analysis of skew, and inter-test correlations in valid and invalid performance groups. Clin Neuropsychol. 2019;33(8):1354-72. DOI:

Merten T, Merckelbach H, Giger P, Stevens A. The Self-Report Symptom Inventory (SRSI): a New Instrument for the Assessment of Distorted Symptom Endorsement. Psychol Inj Law. 2016;9:102-11. DOI:

Mossman D, Wygant DB, Gervais RO, Hart KJ. Trial 1 versus trial 2 of the test of memory malingering: Evaluating accuracy without a "Gold Standard." Psychol Assess. 2018; 30(1): 74-85. DOI:

Nguyen CT, Green D, Barr WB. Evaluation of the MMPI-2-RF for detecting over-reported symptoms in a civil forensic and disability setting. Clin Neuropsychol. 2015;29(2):255-71. DOI:

Reyes A, LaBode-Richman V, Salinas L, Barr WB. WHO-AVLT recognition trial: Initial validation for a new malingering index for Spanish-speaking patients. Appl Neuropsychol Adult. 2019;26(6):564-72. DOI:

Tierney SM, Webber TA, Collins RL, Pacheco VH, Grabyan JM. Validity and Utility of the Miller Forensic Assessment of Symptoms Test (M-FAST) on an Inpatient Epilepsy Monitoring Unit. Psychol Inj Law. 2021;14(4):248-56. DOI:

van Impelen A, Merckelbach H, Jelicic M, Niesten IJM, Campo J. Differentiating Factitious from Malingered Symptomatology: the Development of a Psychometric Approach. Psychol Inj Law. 2017;10:341-57. DOI:

Bodner T, Merten T, Benke T. Performance validity measures in clinical patients with aphasia. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2019;41(5):476-83. DOI:

Henry GK, Gornbein J. Posttraumatic stress disorder and noncredible symptom reporting on the Trauma Symptom Inventory-2. Appl Neuropsychol Adult. 2020; 29(1):100-5. DOI:

Henry GK, Gornbein J. The Modified Somatic Perception Questionnaire: Operating characteristics in non-pain forensic samples. Appl Neuropsychol. 2020;29(4):598-604. DOI:

Lee C, Landre N, Sweet JJ. Performance validity on the Stroop Color and Word Test in a mixed forensic and patient sample. Clin Neuropsychol. 2019;33(8):1403-19. DOI:

Ross PT, Padula CB, Nitch SR, Kinney DI. Cognition and Competency Restoration: Using the RBANS to Predict Length of Stay for Patients Deemed Incompetent to Stand Trial. Clin Neuropsychol. 2015;29(1):150-65. DOI:

De Page L, Mercenier S, Titeca P. Assessing psychopathy in forensic schizophrenia spectrum disorders: Validating the Comprehensive Assessment of the Psychopathic Personality-Institutional Rating Scale (CAPP-IRS). Psychiatry Res. 2018;265:303-8. DOI:

Aguilar C, Karyadi KA, Kinney DI, Nitch SR. The Use of RBANS among Inpatient Forensic Monolingual Spanish Speakers. Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2017; 32: 437-49. DOI:

Boswinkel N, van Horn JE. The Forensic Symptoms Inventory-Youth Version-Revised: Development and Age Invariance Testing of a Broad-Spectrum Questionnaire for Forensic Assessment. Psychol Rep. 2021;124(5):1956-87. DOI:

Bayan SM, Nitch S, Kinney D, Kaminetskaya M. Exploratory analysis of CVLT-II forced-choice recognition and RBANS EI base rates for forensically-committed, psychotic-disordered inpatients: Implications on clinical decision-making. Appl Neuropsychol Adult. 2018;25(1):71-81. DOI:

Williams KD, Hancock E, Wozniak N, Oehler S, Manguso R. Psychometric limitations of the RBANS effort index in forensic inpatient populations. Appl Neuropsychol Adult. 2020;27(2):181-7. DOI:

Botero CGDP, Avendaño-prieto BL, Mejía-vélez BS, Morales-quintero LA, Toro R, García-lópez E. Batería de Evaluación de Cognición Social en Psicología Forense : Adaptación y Validación. Avaliação Psicológica. 2021;20(1):89-99. DOI:

Grossi LM, Green D, Cabeldue M, Pivovarova E. Assessing feigning with the Feigning Evaluation INtegrating Sources (FEINS) in a forensic psychiatric sample. Psychol Serv. 2022;19(2):213-24. DOI:

Tylicki JL, Rai JK, Arends P, Gervais RO, Ben-Porath YS. A comparison of the MMPI-2-RF and PAI overreporting indicators in a civil forensic sample with emphasis on the Response Bias Scale (RBS) and the Cognitive Bias Scale (CBS). Psychol Assess. 2021;33(1):71-83. DOI:

Martin RC, Gerstenecker A, Hebert K, Triebel K, Marson D. Assessment of Testamentary Capacity in Older Adults: Description and Initial Validation of a Standardized Interview Instrument. Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2022;37(6):1133-47. DOI:

Biddle CM, Fazio RL, Dyshniku F, Denney RL. Effects of handcuffs on neuropsychological testing: Implications for criminal forensic evaluations. Appl Neuropsychol Adult. 2018;25(1):82-90. DOI:

Brassard ML, Joyal CC. Predicting forensic inpatient violence with odor identification and neuropsychological measures of impulsivity: A preliminary study. J Psychiatr Res. 2022;147:154-8. DOI:

McMichael I, Tiley O, Broyd J, Murphy D. Examining the relationship between neuropsychological functioning assessed during admission to a high secure psychiatric care hospital and vulnerability to long-term segregation. J Forensic Pract. 2021;23(1):13-25. DOI:

Mela M, Flannigan K, Anderson T, Nelson M, Krishnan S, Chizea C, et al. Neurocognitive function and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in offenders with mental disorders. J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2020;48(2):195-208.

Nishinaka H, Nakane J, Nagata T, Imai A, Kuroki N, Sakikawa N, et al. Neuropsychological impairment and its association with violence risk in Japanese forensic psychiatric patients: A case-control study. PLoS One. 2016;11(1):1-14. DOI:

van Alphen R, Stams GJJM, Hakvoort L. Musical attention control training for psychotic psychiatric patients:an experimental pilot study in a forensic psychiatric hospital. Front Neurosci. 2019;13(570):1-10. DOI:

Denzel AD, Harte JM, van den Bergh M, Scherder EJA. Ethnic variations regarding clinical profiles and symptom representation in prisoners with psychotic disorders. BJPsych Open. 2018;4:18-28. DOI:

Mazurek C, Brook M, Kwasny M, Hanlon RE. Homicidal Physical Violence: An Exploratory Analysis of Relevant Cognitive, Demographic, and Criminological Factors in a Sample of Murderers. Homicide Stud. 2021;5(1):61-82. DOI:

Bulgari V, Iozzino L, Ferrari C, Picchioni M, Candini V, De Francesco A, et al. Clinical and neuropsychological features of violence in schizophrenia: A prospective cohort study. Schizophr Res. 2016;181:124-30. DOI:

Iozzino L, Harvey PD, Canessa N, Gosek P, Heitzman J, Macis A, et al. Neurocognition and social cognition in patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders with and without a history of violence: results of a multinational European study. Transl Psychiatry. 2021;11(620):1-9. DOI:

O'Reilly K, Donohoe G, Coyle C, O'Sullivan D, Rowe A, Losty M, et al. Prospective cohort study of the relationship between neuro-cognition, social cognition and violence in forensic patients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. BMC Psychiatry. 2015;15(155):1-17. DOI:

Corbett L, Karyadi KA, Kinney D, Nitch SR, Bayan SM, Williams M. Impaired verbal learning in forensic inpatients with Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorder. Appl Neuropsychol Adult. 2018;25(3):189-96. DOI:

Engelstad KN, Vaskinn A, Torgalsbøen AK, Mohn C, Lau B, Rund BR. Impaired neuropsychological profile in homicide offenders with schizophrenia. Compr Psychiatry. 2018; 85:55-60. DOI:

Fazel S, Gulati G, Linsell L, Geddes JR, Grann M. Schizophrenia and Violence: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLOS Medicine. 2009; 6(8). DOI:

Ahmed AO, Hunter KM, Goodrum NM, Batten N, Birgenheir D, Hardison E, et al. A randomized study of cognitive remediation for forensic and mental health patients with schizophrenia. J Psychiatr Res. 2015;68:8-18. DOI:

Stratton J, Brook M, Hanlon RE. Murder and psychosis: Neuropsychological profiles of homicide offenders with schizophrenia. Crim Behav Ment Heal. 2017;27:146-61. DOI:

Stratton J, Cobia DJ, Reilly J, Brook M, Hanlon RE. Differences in Neuropsychological Functioning Between Homicidal and Nonviolent Schizophrenia Samples. J Forensic Sci. 2018;63(5):1435-43. DOI:

Crooks D, Anderson NE, Widdows M, Petseva N, Koenigs M, Pluto C, et al. The relationship between cavum septum pellucidum and psychopathic traits in a large forensic sample. Neuropsychologia. 2018;112:95-104. DOI:

Delfin C, Andiné P, Hofvander B, Billstedt E, Wallinius M. Examining associations between psychopathic traits and executive functions in incarcerated violent offenders. Front Psychiatry. 2018; 9(310): 1-10. DOI:

Leue A, Nieden K, Scheuble V, Beauducel A. Individual differences of conflict monitoring and feedback processing during reinforcement learning in a mock forensic context. Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2020;20:408-26. DOI:

Lobbestael J, Cima M, Lemmens A. The relationship between personality disorder traits and reactive versus proactive motivation for aggression. Psychiatry Res. 2015;229:155-60. DOI:

Pasion R, Cruz AR, Barbosa F. Dissociable effects of psychopathic traits on executive functioning: insights from the triarchic model. Front Psychol. 2018;9:1-10. DOI:

Sedgwick O, Young S, Greer B, Arnold J, Parsons A, Puzzo I, et al. Sensorimotor gating characteristics of violent men with comorbid psychosis and dissocial personality disorder: Relationship with antisocial traits and psychosocial deprivation. Schizophr Res. 2018;198:21-7. DOI:

Silva DR da, Salekin RT, Rijo D. Psychopathic severity profiles: A latent profile analysis in youth samples with implications for the diagnosis of conduct disorder. J Crim Justice. 2019;60:74-83. DOI:

Vermeij A, Kempes MM, Cima MJ, Mars RB, Brazil IA. Affective traits of psychopathy are linked to white-matter abnormalities in impulsive male offenders. Neuropsychology. 2018;32(6):735-45. DOI:

Igoumenou A, Harmer CJ, Yang M, Coid JW, Rogers RD. Faces and facets: The variability of emotion recognition in psychopathy reflects its affective and antisocial features. J Abnorm Psychol. 2017;126(8):1066-76. DOI:

van Helvoort D, Merckelbach H, Merten T. The Self-Report Symptom Inventory (SRSI) is sensitive to instructed feigning, but not to genuine psychopathology in male forensic inpatients: An initial study. Clin Neuropsychol. 2019;33(6):1069-82. DOI:

Turner D, Laier C, Brand M, Bockshammer T, Welsch R, Rettenberger M. Response inhibition and impulsive decision-making in sexual offenders against children. J Abnorm Psychol. 2018;127(5):471-81. DOI:

Gerwinn H, Weib S, Tenbergen G, Amelung T, Födisch C, Pohl A, et al. Clinical characteristics associated with paedophilia and child sex offending - Differentiating sexual preference from offence status. Eur Psychiatry. 2018; 51: 74-85. DOI:

Rosburg T, Pflueger MO, Mokros A, Boillat C, Deuring G, Spielmann T, et al. Indirect and Neuropsychological Indicators of Pedophilia. Sex Abuse. 2021;33(55): 579-601. DOI:

Wittström F, Långström N, Landgren V, Rahm C. Risk Factors for Sexual Offending in Self-Referred Men With Pedophilic Disorder: A Swedish Case-Control Study. Front Psychol. 2020;11:1-10. DOI:

Dillien T, Goethals K, Sabbe B, Brazil IA. The neuropsychology of child sexual offending: A systematic review. Aggression and Violent Behavior. 2020;54. DOI:

Johnson VA, Kemp AH, Heard R, Lennings CJ, Hickie IB. Childhood-versus adolescent-onset antisocial youth with conduct disorder: Psychiatric illness, neuropsychological and psychosocial function. PLoS One. 2015;10(4):1-17. DOI:

Joyal CC, Tardif M, Spearson-Goulet JA. Executive Functions and Social Cognition in Juveniles Who Have Sexually Offended. Sex Abus. 2020;32(2):179-202. DOI:

Morosan L, Badoud D, Salaminios G, Eliez S, Van der Linden M, Heller P, et al. Patterns of source monitoring bias in incarcerated youths with and without conduct problems. Cogn Neuropsychiatry. 2018; 23(1): 15-27. DOI:

van Zonneveld L, De Sonneville L, Van Goozen S, Swaab H. Recognition of facial emotion and affective prosody in children at high risk of criminal behavior. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2019;25(1):57-64. DOI:

Jackson DB, Beaver KM. The Interplay Between Neuropsychological Deficits and Adverse Parenting in the Prediction of Adolescent Misconduct: A Partial Test of the Generalizability of Moffitt's Theory. Crim Justice Behav. 2016;43(11):1505-21. DOI:

Voultsos P, Tsamadou E, Karakasi M V., Raikos N, Pavlidis P. Involuntary psychiatric hospitalization of children and adolescents in Northern Greece: Retrospective epidemiological study and related ethical issues. Psychiatriki. 2020;31(2):129-39. DOI:

Meijers, J, Harte JM, Meynen G, Cuijpers P. Differences in executive functioning between violent and non-violent offenders. Psychological Medicine. 2017;47(10):1784-93. DOI:

Wallinius M, Nordholm J, Wagnström F, Billstedt E. Cognitive functioning and aggressive antisocial behaviors in young violent offenders. Psychiatry Res. 2019;272:572-80. DOI:

Hanlon RE, Brook M, Demery JA, Cunningham MD. Domestic Homicide: Neuropsychological Profiles of Murderers Who Kill Family Members and Intimate Partners. J Forensic Sci. 2016;61(S1):163-70. DOI:

Fox JM, Brook M, Heilbronner RL, Susmaras T, Hanlon RE. Neuropsychological and Criminological Features of Female Homicide Offenders. J Forensic Sci. 2019;64(2):460-7. DOI:



How to Cite

Venturi da Silva, L., & Cavalheiro Hamdan, A. (2022). Neuropsychological Assessment in The Forensic Context: A Scoping Review. Brazilian Journal of Forensic Sciences, Medical Law and Bioethics, 12(1), 53–74.