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

WATCH – “Moral Decisions in the Law: What’s the Brain Got to Do with It?”

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Click to view event poster.

Law – particularly criminal law – is infused with moral judgment and calls upon prosecutors, judges, and and jurors to make morally-informed decisions. But where does morality come from? How do we “do” moral decision-making?

At this lunchtime seminar, experimental philosopher and neuroscientist Fiery Cushman led a fascinating and provocative discussion of the current state of neuroscience research on morality. Dr. Cushman presented his computational models of learning and moral decision-making to describe how we learn what morality is within our own cultures, how we internalize moral rules, and how we make moral judgments about others. Amanda Pustilnik, Senior Fellow in Law and Applied Neuroscience at the Petrie-Flom Center and CLBB, responded.

The event was held on April 8, 2015 at Harvard Law School. Continue reading »

In an Iowa courtroom, an astonishing case of sex and Alzheimer’s

By Sarah Kaplan | The Washington Post | April 7, 2015

They started flirting in choir, the vivacious retiree and the grandfatherly politician, both single after the deaths of their longtime spouses. Less than two years later, they were married in the church where they met, surrounded by a gaggle of children and grandchildren and hundreds of guests dancing the polka. It was an unexpected second chance at love for Donna Lou Young and Henry Rayhons, both past 70 at the time of their wedding.

“They were two good people who were good together,” the couple’s pastor recalled.

After a four-year battle with Alzheimer’s, Donna Lou Rayhons died in a nursing home in August, just four days shy of her 79th birthday. A week later, Henry Rayhons was arrested and charged with sexual abuse. State prosecutors accused him of having sex with his wife while she was incapacitated by dementia. Continue reading »

When Eyewitness Testimony Goes Horribly Wrong

By Charlotte Silver | Vice | April 1, 2015

In June 1998, an Orange County, California, bank was robbed. Three men made off with a little over a thousand dollars in cash.

At the time, Guy Miles, a 31-year-old black man from nearby Carson, was in violation of parole. Released from a California prison the year before—after spending two years there for stealing cars from a valet service—he was not permitted to leave the state. Miles wanted to break away from the life of gangs, crime, and prison that he had been locked into since dropping out of high school, according to his family.

So he left for Las Vegas, moved in with his new girlfriend, and kept himself afloat by shuttling between small jobs. Miles concealed his whereabouts from his parole officer by telling him he was staying with his parents in Carson, and every so often he would make a dash through the desert to show up for meetings.

In September 1998, Miles’s parole officer asked him to come in for an impromptu meeting. Waiting for him at the office was a police officer with a warrant for his arrest. Two witnesses who’d been working at the Orange County bank at the time of the robbery had fingered Miles. At trial, his Vegas alibi didn’t hold up against prosecutors’ eyewitness testimonies and Miles and another man, Bernard Teamer, were found guilty. (Teamer had allegedly manned the getaway car.) Continue reading »