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

Alabama Baby’s Death Raises Questions About Child’s Criminal Responsibility

In the case of the death of one-year-old Kelci Lewis, an eight-year-old boy is being charged with murder. No adults were present, and the case hinges on the account of six-year-old who was also in eight-year-old’s care that night. Alabama is one of 30 states with no minimum age for criminal responsibility. 

By Amanda Holpuch | The Guardian | November 15, 2015

The neat green trim on the Birmingham home matched the color of the bountiful trees hanging over its roof. There were stones plastered across the front of the residence so that children inside could imagine that they lived in a castle. A neighbor said that the sloped yard served as terrain for children to slide down on pieces of cardboard – “typical kids”, he said.

In one of the most dangerous big cities in the country, Second Avenue South is a relatively safe place during the day. But at night, a neighbor warned, “the goblins come out”.

He himself was newly out of prison and warned of neighborhood cliques who prowl the Alabama neighborhood when it is dark to defend their territory. But one night last month, the night-time horror was of a different nature and the placid-looking, green-trimmed house was the crime scene. Continue reading »

Developmental Dissociation Between the Maturation of Procedural Memory and Declarative Memory

By Amy S. Finn, Priya B. Kalra, Calvin Goetz, Julia A. Leonard, Margaret A. Sheridan, and John D.E. Gabrieli | Journal of Experimental Child Psychology | November 7, 2015

Abstract:

Declarative memory and procedural memory are known to be two fundamentally different kinds of memory that are dissociable in their psychological characteristics and measurement (explicit vs. implicit) and in the neural systems that subserve each kind of memory. Declarative memory abilities are known to improve from childhood through young adulthood, but the developmental maturation of procedural memory is largely unknown. We compared 10-year-old children and young adults on measures of declarative memory and working memory capacity and on four measures of procedural memory that have been strongly dissociated from declarative memory (mirror tracing, rotary pursuit, probabilistic classification, and artificial grammar). Children had lesser declarative memory ability and lesser working memory capacity than adults, but children exhibited learning equivalent to adults on all four measures of procedural memory. Therefore, declarative memory and procedural memory are developmentally dissociable, with procedural memory being adult-like by age 10 years and declarative memory continuing to mature into young adulthood.

Read the full article here.

Early Auditory Processing Evoked Potentials (N100) Show a Continuum of Blunting from Clinical High Risk to Psychosis in a Pediatric Sample

By Joseph Gonzalez-Heydrich, Michelle Bosquet Enlow, Eugene D’Angelo, Larry J. Seidman, Sarah Gumlak, April Kim, Kristen A. Woodberry, Ashley Rober, Sahil Tembulkar, Kelsey Graber, Kyle O’Donnell, Hesham M. Hamoda, Kara Kimball, Alexander Rotenberg, Lindsay M. Oberman, Alvaro Pascual-Leone, Matcheri S. Keshavan, and Frank H. Duffy | Schizophrenia Research | November 6, 2015

Abstract:

Background

The N100 is a negative deflection in the surface EEG approximately 100 ms after an auditory signal. It has been shown to be reduced in individuals with schizophrenia and those at clinical high risk (CHR). N100 blunting may index neural network dysfunction underlying psychotic symptoms. This phenomenon has received little attention in pediatric populations.

Method

This cross-sectional study compared the N100 response measured via the average EEG response at the left medial frontal position FC1 to 150 sinusoidal tones in participants ages 5 to 17 years with a CHR syndrome (n = 29), a psychotic disorder (n = 22), or healthy controls (n = 17).

Results

Linear regression analyses that considered potential covariates (age, gender, handedness, family mental health history, medication usage) revealed decreasing N100 amplitude with increasing severity of psychotic symptomatology from healthy to CHR to psychotic level.

Conclusions

Longitudinal assessment of the N100 in CHR children who do and do not develop psychosis will inform whether it predicts transition to psychosis and if its response to treatment predicts symptom change.

Read the entire study here.