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

Sterling trial spotlights major issue for Baby Boomers

By Josh Peter | USA Today | July 7, 2014

LOS ANGELES — Beyond the high-powered lawyers and public fight over the $2 billion sale of an NBA team, Donald and Shelly Sterling are caught in a struggle that often unfolds when someone reaches an advanced age and difficult questions arise.

Is it safe for him to drive? Does he need a caregiver?

Or, in the case of 80-year-old Donald Sterling, does he have the mental capacity to serve as a co-trustee of the Sterling Family Trust, which owns the Los Angeles Clippers? Continue reading »

Stopping the Financial Abuse of Seniors

According to the AARP, about 60 percent of adult protective services (APS) cases of financial abuse nationwide involved an adult child of the elderly person.

This longform resource, created in 2011 by the American Bank Association’s Bank Compliance magazine, addresses the vital role banks play in the regulation of elder abuse, and how the law bears on bank–elder interactions.

Read “Stopping the Financial Abuse of Seniors” here.

How Addiction Can Affect Brain Connections

WBUR CommonHealth | Deborah Becker | July 10, 2014
(part of the ongoing Brain Matters: Reporting from the Frontlines of Neuroscience series)

As much of the country grapples with problems resulting from opioid addiction, some Massachusetts scientists say they’re getting a better understanding of the profound role the brain plays in addiction.

Their work is among a growing body of research showing that addiction is a complex brain disease that affects people differently. But the research also raises hopes about potential treatments.

They’re also exploring the neural roots of addiction and seeking novel treatments — including perhaps the age-old practice of meditation. Continue reading »

Free Will: Is Your Brain the Boss of You?

Scientific American Blogs | June 30, 2014 | Mark Fischetti

Philosophers have debated for years whether we deliberately make each of the many decisions we make every day, or if our brain does it for us, on autopilot. Neuroscientists have shown, for example, that neurons in the brain initiate our response to various stimuli milliseconds before we’re even aware that we’re taking such an action.

This heady debate has hit a very practical road in the past decade: whether individuals who commit crimes are actually responsible for them. Lawyers have argued in court that if the brain determines the mind, then defendants may not be responsible for their transgressions.

Michael Gazzaniga, director of the SAGE Center for the Study of Mind at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is at the forefront of the research into free will, and its implications in courtroom trials and in the expectations of different societies. His thoughts and proclamations are captured in an engaging video called Free Will, created by Joseph LeDoux, a well-known expert on the emotional brain at New York University. The video is the second in a series he is putting together with director Alexis Gambis called My Mind’s Eye. (The first episode featured Ned Block on the mind-body problem.)

Read the rest of the article and view the video on Scientific American Blogs, or read more about Michael Gazzaniga here.

Psychiatry and Neurology in the Courtroom: Lost in Translation?

On March 4, 2010, CLBB Co-Directors Judith Edersheim and Bruce Price delivered the Psychiatry Grand Rounds talk at UMass Medical School. The talk discussed the implications the emerging field of cognitive neuroscience may have on the clinical and legal landscapes.

Video of the event is included below in its entirety and at our Vimeo page. Continue reading »