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

Five Questions for Judith Edersheim

CLBB Co-Director and Co-Founder Dr. Judith Edersheim is interviewed in-depth to comment on what neuroimaging can and cannot reveal about the “criminal brain”. 

By Chloé Hecketsweiler | Undark Magazine | December 6, 2016

CAN BRAIN SCIENCE predict when someone will commit a crime, or tell whether a defendant knew right from wrong? In recent decades, scientists and criminal justice experts have been trying to answer tantalizing questions like these — with mixed success.

The science of predicting crime using algorithms is still shaky, and while sophisticated tools such as neuroimaging are increasingly being used in courtrooms, they raise a host of tricky questions: What kind of brain defect or brain injury should count when assessing a defendant’s responsibility for a crime? Can brain imaging distinguish truth from falsehood? Can neuroscience predict human behavior? Continue reading »

What Dogs, Lies And Sex Teach Us About Our True Selves

By Tania Lombrozo | NPR | September 19, 2016

New research suggests that even college students who overwhelmingly report that they accept interracial relationships show greater activity in the insula — a brain region associated with disgust — when presented with images of black-white interracial couples than when presented with images of same-race couples.

An article by one of the researchers explains that the set of studies including this result was designed “to examine how people really feel about interracial relationships” (emphasis added). And the article’s headline touts the corresponding conclusion: “Most people are accepting of interracial marriage, right? The brain shows a different story.”

But when it comes to what people really accept, think or feel, are physiological measurements the authority? Why trust brain activation over what a person says? Continue reading »

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!

Prospective Motion Correction with Volumetric Navigators (vNavs) Reduces the Bias and Variance in Brain Morphometry Induced by Subject Motion

By M. Dylan Tisdall, Martin Reuter, Abid Qureshi, Randy L. Buckner, Bruce Fischl, and André J.W. van der Kouwe | NeuroImage | December 2, 2015

Abstract: 

Recent work has demonstrated that subject motion produces systematic biases in the metrics computed by widely used morphometry software packages, even when the motion is too small to produce noticeable image artifacts. In the common situation where the control population exhibits different behaviors in the scanner when compared to the experimental population, these systematic measurement biases may produce significant confounds for between-group analyses, leading to erroneous conclusions about group differences. While previous work has shown that prospective motion correction can improve perceived image quality, here we demonstrate that, in healthy subjects performing a variety of directed motions, the use of the volumetric navigator (vNav) prospective motion correction system significantly reduces the motion-induced bias and variance in morphometry.

Read the full article here.

A New MRI Masking Technique Based on Multi-Atlas Brain Segmentation in Controls and Schizophrenia: A Rapid and Viable Alternative to Manual Masking

By Elisabetta C. del Re, Yi Gao, Ryan Eckbo, Tracey L. Petryshen, Gabriëlla A.M. Blokland, Larry J. Seidman, Jun Konishi, Jill M. Goldstein, Robert W. McCarley, Martha E. Shenton, and Sylvain Bouix | Journal of Neuroimaging | November 20, 2015

Abstract:

Brain masking of MRI images separates brain from surrounding tissue and its accuracy is important for further imaging analyses. We implemented a new brain masking technique based on multi-atlas brain segmentation (MABS) and compared MABS to masks generated using FreeSurfer (FS; version 5.3), Brain Extraction Tool (BET), and Brainwash, using manually defined masks (MM) as the gold standard. We further determined the effect of different masking techniques on cortical and subcortical volumes generated by FreeSurfer.

METHODS

Images were acquired on a 3-Tesla MR Echospeed system General Electric scanner on five control and five schizophrenia subjects matched on age, sex, and IQ. Automated masks were generated from MABS, FS, BET, and Brainwash, and compared to MM using these metrics: a) volume difference from MM; b) Dice coefficients; and c) intraclass correlation coefficients.

RESULTS

Mean volume difference between MM and MABS masks was significantly less than the difference between MM and FS or BET masks. Dice coefficient between MM and MABS was significantly higher than Dice coefficients between MM and FS, BET, or Brainwash. For subcortical and left cortical regions, MABS volumes were closer to MM volumes than were BET or FS volumes. For right cortical regions, MABS volumes were closer to MM volumes than were BET volumes.

CONCLUSIONS

Brain masks generated using FreeSurfer, BET, and Brainwash are rapidly obtained, but are less accurate than manually defined masks. Masks generated using MABS, in contrast, resemble more closely the gold standard of manual masking, thereby offering a rapid and viable alternative.

Read the entire article here.