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About this Research Topic

Manuscript Submission Deadline 20 June 2023

New trends in research, assessment and treatment are currently visible in the forensic field in three relatively separate areas: the use of neuropsychology, biomarkers, and wearables and VR-technology in forensic mental health. These areas individually can make a valuable contribution to improving forensic ...

New trends in research, assessment and treatment are currently visible in the forensic field in three relatively separate areas: the use of neuropsychology, biomarkers, and wearables and VR-technology in forensic mental health. These areas individually can make a valuable contribution to improving forensic assessments and treatment but combined they might even have a greater impact. For example, heart rate variability (a biomarker) can be visualized during Virtual Reality (VR) scenarios to increase patients’ insights into their physiological responses. With our topic 'New Directions in Forensic Psychology: Applying Neuropsychology, Biomarkers and Technology in Assessment and Intervention’ we hope to offer more insight into the state of scientific developments in the aforementioned areas as they relate to forensic psychology. As a result, we hope to be able to pinpoint lacking knowledge and offer suggestions for further research.

Our research topic 'New Directions in Forensic Psychology: Applying Neuropsychology, Biomarkers and Technology in Assessment and Intervention’ strives to bring together empirical studies performed in one or a combination of these areas. Advancements in forensic assessments and interventions could be optimized by 1) expanding our knowledge of the use of biomarkers and neuropsychology in forensic mental health, 2) expanding assessment and treatment methods by developing and implementing new wearables and VR-technology for forensic psychiatric populations; and, by 3) integrating these areas, for instance, by using VR as a new technology to safely practice alternative cognitive and behavioral responses to stressful and challenging situations.

The scope of our research topic covers neuropsychology, biomarkers, and (wearables and VR-)technology. In forensic psychology, research in these areas is still in its infancy. For instance, prevalence rates of neuropsychological dysfunctions on offender populations are higher (over 50%) compared to the general population (about 12%). Yet, neuropsychological assessments are not routinely performed in forensic settings. An important contributing factor is that forensic neuropsychology is still a relatively new subdiscipline of clinical neuropsychology. Because the main goal of forensic treatment is to reduce offender recidivism by understanding its underlying contributing factors, understanding the possible associations between neurocognitive impairments and (re-)offending behavior is needed.
Biomarkers, such as heart rate variability (HRV) and skin conductance, can be useful in assessing and treating forensic patients who act on impulse and have lower levels of self-control and interoceptive awareness. Biofeedback can be used to enhance self-awareness of (bodily) states and self-regulation strategies.
New wearables and VR-technology can contribute to the integration of neuropsychology and biomarkers in forensic assessment and treatment. For instance, Virtual Reality (VR)-interventions hold significant potential for improving neurocognitive performance (e.g., attention, learning, spatial memory) in patients with mild to severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Moreover, VR could increase the ecological validity of (neuropsychological) assessments and interventions as it offers the opportunity to assess and monitor cognitive, emotional, and behavioral responses in a realistic context.

We welcome the submission of the following manuscript types: Original Research, Systematic Review, Review, Mini Review, Clinical Trial, Case Report, Community Case Study, Brief Research Report, Study Protocol.

Prof. Patrice Renaud is involved with BehaVR solutions, in a private business related to the use of new technologies in mental health.

Keywords: Neuropsychology, Virtual Reality, Biomarkers, Technology, Forensic, Interventions, Assessment


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