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: Our Aging Brains: Decision-making, Fraud, and Undue Influence

With over 70 million Baby Boomers retiring, elder financial exploitation has been labeled the “Crime of the 21st Century.” In this half-day event, we will explore the neuroscience, psychology, and legal doctrine of financial decision-making in older adults. How does the aging brain make financial decisions, and when is it uniquely susceptible? How can courts best use science to improve their adjudication of disputes over “competency”, “capacity”, and “undue influence”? Is novel neuroimaging evidence of dementia ready for courtroom use? This conference will bring together experts in medicine, science, and law to explore these important questions and chart a path forward for dementia and the law.

 

Agenda

8:00 – 8:30am, Registration

A continental breakfast will be available.

8:30 – 8:45am, Introduction

  • 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
  • Carmel Shachar, JD, MPH, Executive Director, Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics and Lecturer in Law, Harvard Law School
  • Francis X. Shen, JD, PhD, Senior Fellow in Law and Applied Neuroscience, the Petrie-Flom Center in Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics, Harvard Law School and the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital and Associate Professor of Law and McKnight Land-Grant Professor, University of Minnesota Law School

8:45 – 9:30am, What is Dementia? Definitions, Diagnosis, and Treatment

  • Bruce H. 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

9:30 – 9:45am, In Pursuit of Elder Justice

9:45 – 10:00am, Break

10:00 – 11:15am, Dementia and the Law: Challenges and Opportunities

  • Jennifer A. Moye, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Associate Director of Education and Evaluation, New England Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center, Boston and Bedford VA
  • Ray D. Madoff, JD, Professor, Boston College Law School
  • Peter A. Lichtenberg, PhD, ABPP, Professor, Department of Psychology and Director, Institute of Gerontology, Wayne State University
  • Daniel Marson, JD, PhD, Professor in the Department of Neurology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

11:15am – 12:10pm, Future Directions: The Aging Brain and Financial Decision-Making

  • Gregory Samanez-Larkin, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University
  • Duke Han, PhD, Director of Neuropsychology, Department of Family Medicine and Associate Professor of Family Medicine, Neurology, Psychology, and Gerontology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California
  • 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

12:15 – 12:30pm, A Path Forward

  • Francis X. Shen, JD, PhD, Senior Fellow in Law and Applied Neuroscience, the Petrie-Flom Center in Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics, Harvard Law School and the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital and Associate Professor of Law and McKnight Land-Grant Professor, University of Minnesota Law School

The Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience is a collaboration between the MGH Center for Law, Brain & Behavior and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School.

Watch a video of this event:

WATCH — The Vulnerable Brain

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Click poster to RSVP.

As the American population ages, the medical and legal systems will have to balance concerns about protecting the elderly from fraud and victimization with fundamental autonomy rights. In this event, the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior will present a case that concerns a tragic trajectory caused by undetected brain disease and discuss both missed opportunities to intervene and the implications for legal and social policy. Weaving a narrative that highlights the subject’s personal life and neurological decline, experts in psychiatry, law, and neurology will consider: what can be done to protect the vulnerable, aging brain?

Examining everything from forensic reports, to medical records, to a literal brain, CLBB Co-Director Dr. Judith Edersheim and CLBB Faculty Member Dr. Brad Dickerson (of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School) will tell a story that exemplifies how vulnerable an ailing, elderly person can be. CLBB Co-Director Dr. Bruce Price will join as a discussant during the Q&A session with the audience.

This event will be held on Thursday, December 15, 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. Continue reading »

The Dialectic Between Empathy and Violence: An Opportunity for Intervention?

By Doriana Chialant, Judith Edersheim, and Bruce Price | The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences | January 11, 2016

Abstract:

The authors provide a comprehensive review of the neurobiology of empathy and compare this with the neurobiology of psychopathic predatory violence—the most extreme deficit of empathy. This suggests that the specific areas of the prefrontal cortex and limbic system, which have been associated with violent behavior, also appear to subserve the capacity for empathy. Damage to these regions may result in the emergence of aggression, but not of empathy, suggesting a structurally inverse relationship between the two. The authors examine the evidence for a dialectic between empathy and predatory violence and explore the implications for early interventions with empathy training in treatment-resistant psychopathy.

Read the full article here.

Dr. Bruce Price to Speak on the Future of Behavioral Neurology

CLBB Co-Director Bruce Price will be the Keynote Speaker at the Groupe de Reserche sur la maladie d’Alzheimer XXIXth Congress in Marseille, France on January 29, 2016. His speech, “The Future of Behavioral Neurology in the 21st Century”, will highlight CLBB as a model of cross-disciplinary collaboration. He will be giving similar talks at BIDMC and North Shore Hospital psychiatry grand rounds and the annual Derek Denny-Brown lecture of the Boston Society for Neurology and Psychiatry.

More information can be found out about the event here.

Congratulations to Dr. Price!

Clinical Approach to the Differential Diagnosis Between Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia and Primary Psychiatric Disorders

By Simon Ducharme, Bruce H. Price, Mykol Larvie, Darin D. Dougherty, and Bradford C. Dickerson | American Journal of Psychiatry | September 1, 2015

Summary:

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) describes a heterogeneous group of neurodegenerative diseases featuring various combinations of behavioral changes, language abnormalities, social cognitive impairment, and executive function deficits. FTD is divided into two major clinical syndromes: the behavioral variant (bvFTD) (1) and the language variants referred to as primary progressive aphasias (2).

Identifying bvFTD is challenging because symptoms can be subtle in the early stages, and they may combine features that are traditionally within the realm of psychiatry (e.g., personality changes, lack of empathy, compulsions) and others usually seen by neurologists (e.g., aphasia, cognitive impairments). Patients are often first evaluated in general psychiatric settings, and about 50% are initially diagnosed with a primary psychiatric illness (3).

Knowledge about FTD has grown exponentially over the past 10 years, and it is crucial for psychiatrists to include bvFTD as part of their differential diagnosis in a wide range of adult psychiatric disorders. In this article, we review the clinical approach to bvFTD, focusing in particular on the differential diagnosis between bvFTD and primary psychiatric disorders.

Read the full paper here.