The impact of neuroscience on law, mental health care, finance and public policy will increase exponentially over the next 20 years, eventually touching each and every one of us. The Center for Law, Brain and Behavior (CLBB) at Massachusetts General Hospital promotes the sound translation of brain-based and behavioral science into law, finance, and public policy.
Neuroscience is transforming our ability to fundamentally understand ourselves and one another. Research in neurology, psychiatry, psychology, cognitive neuroscience and neuroimaging is rapidly increasing our understanding of the cause-and-effect relationships between brain functioning and behavior. As findings accumulate, judges and policymakers, looking for clear answers and practical metrics, have been asked to draw conclusions about personal responsibility and individual decision-making capacity using this new information.
With new information comes great responsibility. The questions that arise as science, law, finance and public policy intersect will have enormous significance and the potential to profoundly affect millions of lives:
- Can brain imaging distinguish truth from falsehood?
- Will understanding memory and courtroom recall issues improve justice?
- Can we predict who will become violent and determine how to prevent it?
- Can we comprehend impulsivity, addiction and the adolescent brain?
- Can we improve juvenile justice policy by using neuroscience to tailor high-impact interventions?
- Can we protect individuals from financial exploitation given our evolving knowledge about the science of decision-making?
- Will the ability to visualize pain via brain scans modify the legal concept of pain and suffering?
- Will presenting neuroscientific findings in the courtroom alter notions of free will and personal responsibility?
The Center for Law, Brain and Behavior addresses these questions, among others, by monitoring relevant brain discoveries; promoting neuroscience that is responsible, ethical and scientifically sound; and discouraging premature or inappropriate use of scientific findings. The center is led by Bruce H. Price, M.D. and Judith G. Edersheim, J.D., M.D., clinicians with decades of experience in the fields of neurology, psychiatry and the law who are committed to enhancing social justice, particularly among those most vulnerable and underserved.
CLBB maximizes impact by engaging the brightest researchers across many disciplines to work collaboratively on these problems. By virtue of its location within the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Psychiatry, the Center draws upon a unique depth of clinical and research expertise in psychiatry, neurology and neuroscience. CLBB has established a vibrant community of investigators with rich collaborations across many disciplines, including leading scientists and legal scholars from the Harvard Department of Psychology, Harvard Law School and Harvard Medical School. We are guided by a board of advisors uniquely talented in finance, law, academia, politics, media, and biotechnology. Our influence occurs through academic research and publications, educational outreach, media campaigns, informing decision-makers, and training future leaders.
CLBB understands the power of informed professional and public opinion to compel social action in a transformative, ethical, and responsible way.