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

NEW DATE: APRIL 9– Crimes of Passion: New Neuroscience vs. Old Doctrine

 

The criminal law often sees love and passion turned into violence. How does this happen? And how should law respond? Many doctrines, most notably the “heat of passion” defense – which historically has been used disproportionately to excuse the crimes of men against women – rely on a distinction between defendants who acted “emotionally” instead of “rationally.” But modern neuroscience has debunked the idea that reason and emotion are two entirely different mental states. This panel will explore how law should respond to this neuroscientific challenge to long-held doctrine.

Panelists:

Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, University Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Director of the Interdisciplinary Affective Science Laboratory at Northeastern University; Research Scientist, Department of Psychiatry, Northeastern University; Research Neuroscientist, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital; Lecturer in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Faculty Affiliate, the MGH Center for Law, Brain & Behavior

Judge Nancy Gertner (ret.), Senior Lecturer on Law, Harvard Law School and Managing Director, MGH Center for Law, Brain & Behavior

Jeannie Suk Gersen, JD, PhD, John H. Watson, Jr. Professor of Law

Moderator:

Judith G. Edersheim, JD, MD, Co-Founder and Co-Director, Center for Law, Brain & Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital; Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; attending Psychiatrist, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital

WATCH — New Technologies, New Dilemmas

New technologies with implications for human health and enhancement are developing at breakneck speed, with fundamental changes in genomic medicine, reproductive technology, neuroscience, and even how we die. Each of these technologies raises important questions at the intersection of ethics, law, and politics. What role should the government have in regulating scientific innovation? How should we weigh potential risks and benefits, to individuals, vulnerable populations, and even the environment? Can these technologies be used to promote justice, or do they risk entrenching existing disparities? Glenn Cohen ‘03, faculty director, Petrie-Flom Center at Harvard Law School; Judith Edersheim ‘85, co-founder and co-director, Center for Law, Brain and Behavior, Harvard Medical School; Atul Gawande, executive director of Ariadne Labs; and Eric Lander, president and founding director of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, discussed these pressing questions, and more, from their perspectives as lawyers, scientists, and clinicians. Carmel Shachar ‘10 hosted the panel. Their talk was part of the HLS in the World bicentennial summit which took place at Harvard Law School on Friday, October 27, 2017. Read more: http://200.hls.harvard.edu/

Watch video of the entire event here!

 

WATCH — Dementia and Democracy

Our judiciary and our elected officials are getting old. Five of the nine Supreme Court Justices are 67 or older, with two over age 80. The President is 71, the Senate Majority Leader is 75, and the House Minority Leader is 77. Does the public have a right to know whether these officials have been screened for dementia? If the individuals don’t self-report their dementia status, should experts continue to adhere to the “Goldwater Rule” and refrain from offering an armchair diagnosis? As the nation reflects on its midterm elections, and prepares for the 2020 election cycle, these questions are timely and challenging.

Panelists:

Rebecca Brendel, JD, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Director, Master’s in Bioethics Program, Center for Bioethics, Harvard Medical School; Director of Law & Ethics, Center for Law, Brain & Behavior, Massachusetts General Hospital

Bruce Price, MD, Chief, Department of Neurology at McLean Hospital; Associate in Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital; Associate Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School; Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior, Massachusetts General Hospital

Francis X. Shen, PhD, JD, Senior Fellow in Law and Applied Neuroscience, the Petrie-Flom Center in Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School and the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital; Associate Professor of Law and McKnight Land-Grant Professor, University of Minnesota Law School; Executive Director of Education and Outreach, the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience

Moderator: Judith Edersheim, Co-Founder and Co-Director, Center for Law, Brain & Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital; Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; attending Psychiatrist, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital

Watch video of the entire event below!

WATCH — The Neurolaw Revolution: A Lecture by Francis X. Shen

Rapid advances in the brain sciences offer both promise and peril for the law. In light of these developments, Dr. Francis Shen explored how neuroscientific analysis of law may revolutionize legal doctrine and practice.

Click to enlarge poster.

Dr. Shen is the third Senior Fellow in Law and Neuroscience in the Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience, a collaboration between the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Petrie-Flom Center. Dr. Shen directs the Shen Neurolaw Lab at the University of Minnesota, is co-author of the first Law and Neuroscience casebook, and serves as Executive Director of Education and Outreach for the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience.

This event was held from 4:00-5:30 pm on Wednesday, September 13, at Wasserstein Hall, Milstein East A, Harvard Law School (1585 Massachusetts Ave, 02138). It was free and open to the public. This lecture was followed at 5:30 pm by the Petrie-Flom Center’s 2017 Open House reception.

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WATCH — Second Chance Kids

CLBB’s Dr. Robert Kinscherff offers commentary on the changing landscape of juvenile justice, especially for offenders who were previously serving life sentences without parole. In this new FRONTLINE documentary, “Second Chance Kids”, he discusses the implications of the Supreme Court ruling that changed everything (Miller v. Alabama) and the role neuroscience research played in shaping such a monumental decision. The following article (also quoting Dr. Kinscherff) accompanied the FRONTLINE documentary.
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