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

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!

Dr. Edersheim on What Obama’s Solitary Confinement Reforms Mean for Inmates

CLBB Co-Director Dr. Judith Edersheim was quoted in a FRONTLINE article on President Barack Obama’s recent announcement of his commitment to reduce the use of solitary confinement in federal prisons, particularly by ending the use of isolation on inmates under the age of 18. On the harmful effects of solitary confinement on adolescents in particular, Dr. Edersheim states,

“Adolescents are neurological sponges for their environment, and if those environments are toxic it can permanently alter their brain development in all the ways we need them to develop. Solitary confinement is arguably the worst neurotoxin in that sense.”

Read the full piece from FRONTLINE, “What Obama’s Solitary Reforms Mean for Inmates“, by Sarah Childress, published on January 26, 2016.

Dr. Buckholtz to Receive APS Award

CLBB Faculty Member Joshua Buckholtz has been chosen as one of the recipients of the 2016 Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformational Early Career Contributions. According to the website:

The APS Board of Directors established the Janet Taylor Spence Award to recognize transformative contributions to psychological science by rising stars in the field. The Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions celebrates the many new and cutting edge ideas coming out of the most creative and promising investigators who embody the future of psychological science.

The Spence award recognizes young researchers who cross traditional sub-disciplinary lines in psychological science and honors contributions that reveal the organization underlying complex behavior by drawing upon multiple fields of psychological science.

The award will be given to the most creative and promising young investigators, like Spence at the beginning of her career.

Congratulations to Dr. Joshua Buckholtz on this outstanding achievement!

Amanda Pustilnik to Help Develop Standards for Legal Uses of Brain Imaging

The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) has convened a pioneering working group to develop international standards for the legal uses of brain imaging, a group that will include CLBB Faculty Member and former Fellow in Law & Applied Neuroscience, Amanda Pustilnik. This will be the first body to set international standards for legal and policy uses of brain imaging, advancing law, policy, and human outcomes in the pain area. Additionally, it will provide a model for how to set standards in all areas where law may turn to brain imaging relating to the brain’s production of sensation, affect, and behavior. This initiative was in part prompted by the ideas raised at CLBB’s recent conference,  “Visible Solutions: How Neuroimaging Helps Law Re-envision Pain”.

Congratulations to Amanda Pustilnik for being part of this trailblazing effort!