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

Lisa Feldman Barrett receives Diener Award

Congratulations to CLBB Faculty and Northeastern University Professor Lisa Feldman Barrett, who was recently selected by the Foundation for Personality and Social Psychology (FPSP) and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) to receive the 2014 Carol and Ed Diener Award in Social Psychology. This award is designed to recognize a scholar (approximately 15-25 years from their first tenure-track appointment) whose work has added substantially to the body of knowledge to the social psychology field and/or brings together personality psychology and social psychology. Continue reading »

Who Has a Right to Pain Relief?

By Rebecca Davis O’Brien | The Atlantic | August 18, 2014

“Pain has become our fifth vital sign.” Speaking last fall at a New Jersey symposium on pain management called “Do No Harm,” the chairman of emergency services at Hackensack University Medical Center said what his audience of doctors and nurses hardly needed to be told. We are all familiar with the medical routine: The thermometer beeps, the blood pressure gauge sighs, breaths and pulse are recorded—and then we’re asked, these days, how much it hurts on a scale of one to 10. Pain didn’t get there on its own. In fact, the speaker was borrowing a line from the American Pain Society, a patient-advocacy group whose research is supported by pharmaceutical companies. “In a certain way,” he confessed, “we have created our own monster.” Continue reading »

Court Review: Special Issue on Law & Neuroscience

In the summer 2014, Court Review, the journal of the American Judges Association, published a special issue on law and neuroscience. Court Review is distributed quarterly to an audience of over 2,200 judges in the United States. This special issue featured shortened versions, adapted from longer pieces, made accessible to the judiciary, on topics such as decision-making, brain imaging evidence, adolescent brain development, and pain in the law. Continue reading »

Free Will and Punishment: A Mechanistic View of Human Nature Reduces Retribution

By Azim F. Shariff, Joshua D. Greene, Johan C. Karremans, Jamie B. Luguri, Cory J. Clark, Jonathan W. Schooler, Roy F. Baumeister & Kathleen D. Vohs | Psychological Science | August 2014

Abstract:

If free-will beliefs support attributions of moral responsibility, then reducing these beliefs should make people less retributive in their attitudes about punishment. Four studies tested this prediction using both measured and manipulated free-will beliefs. Study 1 found that people with weaker free-will beliefs endorsed less retributive, but not consequentialist, attitudes regarding punishment of criminals. Subsequent studies showed that learning about the neural bases of human behavior, through either lab-based manipulations or attendance at an undergraduate neuroscience course, reduced people’s support for retributive punishment (Studies 2–4). These results illustrate that exposure to debates about free will and to scientific research on the neural basis of behavior may have consequences for attributions of moral responsibility.

Read the full paper here.

Nancy Gertner receives the Margaret Brent Lawyers of Achievement Award

CLBB Faculty and Harvard Law School Professor of Practice Nancy Gertner has been selected as a recipient of the 2014 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, established by the ABA Commission on the Status of Women in the Profession. Continue reading »