Understanding the influence of neurodevelopmental disorders on offending: utilizing developmental psychopathology in biosocial criminology

Nathan Hughes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
468 Downloads (Pure)


Evidence from a wide range of countries consistently suggests a disproportionately high prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders amongst young offenders in custodial institutions. This indicates an increased rate of serious and persistent offending amongst young people with diagnosable disorders, and therefore a failure of current policies and practices to address this vulnerability. Given this high prevalence, it is vital to seek better understandings of the trajectories of offending experienced by young people with specific disorders. Biosocial criminology is uniquely placed to examine this relationship, given its emphasis on the influence of biological processes on antisocial behavior and the role of social and environmental contexts in shaping the course of these processes. However, there are significant challenges and limitations to effectively modeling the complexity and heterogeneity of the influence of neurodevelopmental disorders using dominant biosocial methodologies. Addressing these concerns necessitates improved understandings of the etiology, expression and progression of particular neurodevelopmental disorders, as evident in developmental psychopathology. Understanding the particular combination of biological processes apparent in the progression of specific disorders and their influence on specific components of social functioning can inform more effective biosocial models of criminal behavior in the context of neurodevelopmental impairment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-60
Number of pages22
JournalCriminal Justice Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Jan 2015


  • biosocial criminology
  • developmental psychopathology
  • neurocognitive impairment
  • neurodevelopmental disorders
  • neuropsychological impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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