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J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2014;42(2):159-64.

DSM-5 and neurocognitive disorders.

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Dr. Simpson is Staff Psychiatrist, Los Angeles County Jail Mental Health Services, and Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA.


The newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) introduces several changes in the diagnostic criteria for dementia and other cognitive disorders. Some of these changes may prove helpful for clinical and forensic practitioners, particularly when evaluating less severe cognitive impairments. The most substantial change is that the cognitive disorder-not otherwise specified category found in prior editions has been eliminated. Those disorders that do not cause sufficient impairment to qualify for a diagnosis of dementia are now defined as neurocognitive disorders and placed on a spectrum with the more severe conditions. The concept of social cognition is also introduced as one of the core functional domains that can be affected by a neurocognitive disorder. This concept may be particularly significant in the evaluation of patients with non-Alzheimer's dementias, such as frontotemporal dementia. With the aging of the population and the increasing recognition of the possibility of long-lasting cognitive deficits after traumatic brain injury, the need for assessment of cognitive disorders in medicolegal contexts is certain to increase. Forensic psychiatrists who perform these evaluations should understand the conceptualization of Neurocognitive Disorders as presented in DSM-5 and how it differs from prior diagnostic systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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