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 — Boys to Men to Boys

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Approximately 2,000 youth sentenced to life without parole are now serving unconstitutional sentences in US prisons. What is the role for psychology and neuroscience in re-sentencing and parole after Miller and Montgomery?

Join two experts in forensic psychology, law and juvenile justice policy, for a discussion of the dilemmas posed after the Supreme Court’s recent decision to ban mandatory life without possibility of parole for juvenile homicides (Miller v. Alabama, 2012) and then this year to retroactively apply this decision to some 2,000 incarcerated individuals (Montgomery v. Louisiana, 2016).

The event will be held at 12:00 pm on Wednesday, April 13, in Wasserstein Hall, Milstein East C (2036) at Harvard Law School (1585 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA).

This event is free and open to the public. Lunch will be served.

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WATCH — Poverty, Violence, and the Developing Mind

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Concentrated poverty is on the rise, and an increasing number of children are at risk for exposure to severe violence and dangerous living conditions. What are the implications of trauma exposure for healthy brain development?

During this panel event, Dr. Kerry Ressler (of McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School) will discuss the risks poor, urban environments pose for post-traumatic stress disorder, while Dr. Charles A. Nelson (of Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School) will discuss the effects of “toxic stress” on early childhood development. Carey Goldberg of WBUR will facilitate the conversation and host the Q&A session with the audience. 

This event will be held on Thursday, March 24, 2016, at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Bornstein Amphitheater, from 7:00-8:30 pm.

Make sure to RSVP before the event!

This event is free and open to the public. A brief reception will precede the event from 6:30-7:00 PM.

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Dr. Edersheim on Why Juvenile Murderers in America Now Have a Shot at Parole

CLBB Co-Director Dr. Judith Edersheim‘s expert opinion was featured in an article with VICE on the recent Supreme Court ruling in Montgomery v. Alabama, asserting that the Court’s decision in 2012 banning life without parole sentences for juvenile defendants applied retroactively. In describing the neurological differences between adolescents and adults, Dr. Edersheim notes,

“Adolescence is a period of time when the brain is hyper plastic. It’s a period of rapidly-changing brain. Adolescents are supposed to take risks. That’s what their neurotransmitters and their brains are telling them. But they calculate risks differently from grown ups, and it has an evolutionary purpose and a neurological basis.”

The article further reports:

“According to Edersheim, the adolescent brain undergoes a period of ‘pruning’ before adulthood. So it’s not that teens just turn into crazy people—rather, their brains begin to learn to ‘process efficiently.’  And to do that, they need to take cues from their surroundings.

The neuroscience, she says, debunked the myth of the young ‘superpredator’ that preceded it.”

Read the full article, “Why Juvenile Murderers in America Now Have a Shot at Parole“, by Susan Zalkind, published by VICE on February 1, 2016.

Dr. Schacter to Receive Highest APS Award

CLBB Faculty Member Daniel Schacter has been named to receive the APS 2017 William James Fellow Award. The James Award is the highest honor conferred by APS. It honors distinguished APS Members for a lifetime of significant intellectual contributions to the basic science of psychology. According to the website:

The APS William James Fellow Award honors APS Members for their lifetime of significant intellectual contributions to the basic science of psychology. Recipients must be APS members recognized internationally for their outstanding contributions to scientific psychology. 

Congratulations to Dr. Daniel Schacter on this enormous achievement!

WATCH — Fetal Pain: An Update on the Science and Legal Implications

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Click to enlarge event poster.

On Wednesday, February 10, Amanda Pustilnik, JD and Maureen Strafford MD will discuss fetal pain, including advances in neuroscience and treatment and their implications for the law.

The event will be held at 12:00 pm on Wednesday, February 10, in Wasserstein Hall, Milstein East C (2036) at Harvard Law School (1585 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA).

This event is free and open to the public. Lunch will be served.

Continue reading »