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

Pain as Fact and Heuristic: How Pain Neuroimaging Illuminates Moral Dimensions of Law

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Amanda Pustilnik speaking at CLBB’s April 2013 “Models of the Mind” event at Harvard Medical School.  Pustilnik will be the 2014-2015 Senior Fellow in CLBB’s joint venture with Harvard Law School’s Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law, Biotechnology and Bioethics.

ABSTRACT: Legal statuses, prohibitions, and protections often turn on the presence and degree of physical pain. In legal domains ranging from tort to torture, pain and its degree do important definitional work by delimiting boundaries of lawfulness and of entitlements. The omnipresence of pain in law suggests that the law embodies an intuition about the ontological primacy of pain. Yet, for all the work done by pain as a term in legal texts and practice, it has had a confounding lack of external verifiability. As with other subjective states, we have been able to impute pain’s presence but have not been able to observe it directly. Continue reading »

Landmark Legislative Trends in Juvenile Justice: An Update and Primer for Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists

By Eraka Bath, MD, Shawn Sidhu, MD, and Sofia Stepanyan, BA | July 2013 | Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

Over the past decade, a series of U.S. Supreme Court cases have enhanced the legal rights for youth involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. These cases, considered landmark cases in psychiatry and the law, reflect an evolving understanding of the interplay among culpability, neurocognitive development, and adolescent behavior. Fortunately, these legislative trends represent significant gains in improving due-process protections for juveniles and have shifted the pendulum toward a more neurodevelopmental approach in thinking about culpability and rehabilitation in young offenders, a vulnerable population with high levels of psychiatric morbidity. Continue reading »