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: The Neuroscience of Hate

April 10, 2019 12:00 PM at Harvard Law School

Description

Human beings are biologically predisposed to divide humanity into ingroups and outgroups, and this comes with a great social cost – the capacity for hate. While we may view ourselves and our communities as benevolent and egalitarian, we often view outsiders as inhuman, unworthy, or alien, allowing us to victimize them in conscious and unconscious ways. What are the psychological and neurobiologic roots of this urge to divide ourselves? How do legal structures enact and justify systemic disadvantage for outsiders?

Panelists at this event discussed structures in the brain and in the law that foster hate. 

VIDEO: Rebecca Saxe, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT, and associate member, McGovern Institute

Panelists

  • Jon Hanson, Alan A. Stone Professor of Law; Faculty Director, The Systemic Justice Project; Director, Project on Law and Mind Sciences at Harvard Law School
  • Rebecca Saxe, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT, and associate member, McGovern Institute
  • 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

Part of 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 for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School.

WATCH: Trauma at the Border

Description

March 4, 2019 at Harvard Law School

At the center of contemporary political debate are the record numbers of migrant families and children at the U.S.-Mexico border. As these parents and children flee the trauma of violence in their native countries, they are now experiencing the trauma of navigating an increasingly hostile immigration system. What can neuroscience tell us about the effects of these traumatic experiences on the brains of the children and adults? And how might the neuroscience of trauma and brain development affect legal cases? Can advances in mobile neuroimaging provide practitioners with real-time brain evidence of trauma? Does neuroscience have a larger role to play in shaping our nation’s immigration policies? This panel session brought together scientists and lawyers to start a dialogue on neuroscience, trauma, and justice.

Videos

VIDEO: Welcome and Introduction, Francis X. Shen
VIDEO: Charles Nelson III, “The Effects of Early Life Adversity on Development”
VIDEO: Cindy Zapata on the impact of refugees’ trauma on their ability to navigate the legal system
VIDEO: Francis Shen, Concluding Remarks
VIDEO: Audience Q & A

Panelists

  • Charles Nelson, III, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School and Director of Research, Developmental Medicine Center, Boston Children’s Hospital
  • Cindy Zapata, JD, Lecturer on Law and Clinical Instructor, Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, Harvard Law School; Leader of 2018 HLS student trip to provide legal services to immigrant families separated in the Karnes Detention Center in Texas
  • Moderator: Francis X. Shen, PhD, JD, Executive Director, Harvard Center for Law, Brain & Behavior, Massachusetts General Hospital and Senior Fellow in Law and Applied Neuroscience, Petrie-Flom Center in Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics, Harvard Law School; Associate Professor of Law and McKnight Land-Grant Professor, University of Minnesota Law School

Learn More

Slides

Read More

Part of 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 for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School.

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 — 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.

Continue reading »

CLBB Welcomes New Senior Fellow in Law and Applied Neuroscience!

We’re excited to announce our 2017–2018 Senior Fellow in Law and Applied Neuroscience, Francis X. Shen!

Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience

The Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience, now entering its fourth year, is a collaboration between the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School. The collaboration includes a Senior Fellow in residence, public symposia, and a Law and Neuroscience Seminar at Harvard Law School taught by the Hon. Nancy Gertner. For more information, see the full press release on the launch of the program.

2017­–2018 Senior Fellow

Francis X. Shen, PhD, JD is the third Senior Fellow in Law and Neuroscience. Shen is currently an Associate Professor of Law and McKnight Presidential Fellow at the University of Minnesota; affiliated faculty at the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital; and Executive Director of Education and Outreach for the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience. Shen received his JD from Harvard Law School, and his PhD in Government and Social Policy from Harvard.

As Senior Fellow, he will pursue original research, mentoring, and public engagement on legal issues related to the aging brain, dementia, traumatic brain injury, and the law. Activities will include expert symposia and public events to promote focused discussion on how the law can more effectively respond to aging brain issues including dementia and traumatic brain injury.

Shen’s goal during his fellowship year will be to foster this interdisciplinary dialogue on dementia and the law. The Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience will assess the utility of law’s traditional approaches to capacity and undue influence in light of emerging science on the neurobiology of dementia; consider the future legal utility and ethics of new biomarkers for dementia; and begin developing new theoretical and practical frameworks for more fairly and effectively adjudicating cases in which dementia plays a role.

Please join us in welcoming Francis Shen to the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior!

To learn more about the Project’s 2017–2018 Area of Inquiry, Dementia and the Law, visit the Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience website!