Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

Living Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Frontal Lobe Defense

  • Robert L. Heilbronner
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-56782-2_985-2


The “frontal lobe defense” is a strategy often employed by defense attorneys representing their clients in criminal cases where violence, aggression, impulsivity, etc. are regarded as being relevant factors in the commission of the crime(s). The neurosciences have clearly demonstrated that damage to the prefrontal cortex and other areas of the frontal lobe as well as frontal-subcortical connections can cause a behavioral disinhibition syndrome, which some have labeled as “pseudopsychopathic.” Perhaps, the most famous example is the nineteenth-century case of Phineas Gage, a railroad worker who survived an explosion in which an iron-tamping bar was blasted up under his cheekbone and out through the top of his head. He subsequently experienced a dramatic change in personality and behavior, characterized by profanity, boisterousness, and impulsivity to the point where people said “Gage was no longer Gage.” Damage to the prefrontal cortex was hypothesized to be the cause of that...

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References and Readings

  1. Denney, R. L. (2005). Criminal responsibility and other criminal forensic issues. In G. Larrabee (Ed.), Forensic neuropsychology: A scientific approach. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Denney, R. L., & Wynkoop, T. F. (2000). Clinical neuropsychology in the criminal forensic setting. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 15, 804–828.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Miller, B. L., & Cummings, J. L. (2007). The human frontal lobes: Functions and disorders. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  4. Osmon, D. C. (1999). Complexities in the evaluation of executive functions. In J. Sweet (Ed.), Forensic neuropsychology: Fundamentals and practice. Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chicago Neuropsychology GroupChicagoUSA