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

Video: Will insanity save Scott Panetti from execution? Dr. Judith Edersheim on HuffPostLive

Texas plans to execute a paranoid schizophrenic tomorrow. Activists are pleading with Governor Perry or the Supreme Court to intervene. Is this “cruel and unusual punishment”? How should the law handle mad people who commit capital crimes?

CLBB’s Dr. Judith Edersheim participated in a HuffPostLive conversation to discuss the insanity defense in light of the case of Scott Panetti, who was sentenced to die for the 1992 murder of his wife’s parents. At his murder trial, acting as his own defense lawyer, he dressed as a cowboy and called on Jesus, John F. Kennedy, and the Pope as witnesses. Panetti has been hospitalized many times since for psychosis and delusions.

View the conversation below, or on HuffPostLive, which also included Dahlia Lithwick, Slate legal affairs correspondent; George Parnham, criminal defense attorney; and Heather Beaudoin, of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. Josh Zepps hosted. Continue reading »

Protecting our Parents: Can Science Help?

High-profile schemes to defraud the elderly of their lifetime savings have headlined top newspapers and tabloids alike. There was Brooke Astor, whose son and attorney were convicted of criminal fraud, Anna Nicole Smith and the fight over J. Edgar Marshall’s inheritance, and Huguette Clark, a multi-billionaire who lived for years in a hospital and whose death prompted a criminal investigation into her donations and inheritance. Unfortunately, these notorious cases are merely the tip of a vast and growing iceberg of financial fraud against the elderly. In 2011, Metlife Mature Market Institute estimated an annual loss of $2.9 billion in fraud against elders. Recent surveys indicate that more than 7.3 million Americans over 65 have been victims of financial fraud. As crime rates — and vulnerable populations — increase, the scientific and legal communities must pool our ever-increasing knowledge and resources to protect elderly family members.

Read the full article on the Huffington Post, published February 21, 2014. By Bruce H. Price, MD and Ekaterina Pivovarova, PhD. Written with Judith G. Edersheim, JD, MD.

For further resources on elder fraud and decision making, see the reference materials from our December 2013 event Capacity, Decision-Making and the Elderly: Brain Science Meets the Law, and follow-up article in the Boston Globe “Scammers take aim at aging population,” by event moderator and Globe reporter Kay Lazar.

 

Can Neuroscience Predict Human Behavior?

In the years to come, neuroscience may evolve to yield solid predictions about how genetics and brain conditions, in all of their complex aggregates and interactions, can influence a specific individual’s particular choices at particular times. But for now, the tools of neuroscience should not be accorded the deference of mathematical certainty.

Read the piece on Huffington Post.