News and Commentary Archive

Explore recent scientific discoveries and news as well as CLBB events, commentary, and press.

Mission

The speed of technology in neuroscience as it impacts ethical and just decisions in the legal system needs to be understood by lawyers, judges, public policy makers, and the general public. The Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior is an academic and professional resource for the education, research, and understanding of neuroscience and the law. Read more

The mysterious workings of the adolescent brain

Why do teenagers seem so much more impulsive, so much less self-aware than grown-ups? Cognitive neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore compares the prefrontal cortex in adolescents to that of adults, to show us how typically “teenage” behavior is caused by the growing and developing brain, in this TED Talk.

See the TED Talk page, with more resources, here.

Justices Bar Mandatory Life Terms for Juveniles

By Adam Liptak and Ethan Bronner | The New York Times | June 25, 2012

Some 2,000 juvenile offenders serving life sentences without parole were given hope of eventual release by the Supreme Court on Monday. The court ruled that laws requiring youths convicted of murder to be sentenced to die in prison violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The 5-to-4 decision divided the court along ideological lines, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joining the four members of the liberal wing. Justice Kennedy also provided the decisive vote in two other decisions issued Monday — on Arizona’s immigration law and on a sequel to the court’s decision in the Citizens United campaign finance case. Continue reading »

The Functional Neuroanatomy of Decision-Making

Decision-making is a complex executive function that draws on past experience, present goals, and anticipation of outcome, and which is influenced by prevailing and predicted emotional tone and cultural context. Functional imaging investigations and focal lesion studies identify the orbitofrontal, anterior cingulate, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices as critical to decision-making. The authors review the connections of these prefrontal regions with the neocortex, limbic system, basal ganglia, and cerebellum, highlight current ideas regarding the cognitive processes of decision-making that these networks subserve, and present a novel integrated neuroanatomical model for decision-making. Finally, clinical relevance of this circuitry is illustrated through a discussion of frontotemporal dementia, traumatic brain injury, and sociopathy.

Source: The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 2012; 24:266–277. Authors: Michael H. Rosenbloom, M.D.; Jeremy D. Schmahmann, M.D.; Bruce H. Price, M.D. [Read the article]